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George Washington Flowers 
Memorial Collection 






1 ^Iv 









THE FLOWERS nn; ^ — ^-v 




Chap. I. — Journey — Baltimore — Washiogtoa 


ir. — American Constitution 


III. — Washington ..... 


IV. — Washington 


V' — New Orleans ..... 


VI. — Journey to Charleston 


VII Journey to Niagara — The Falls , 


VIII. — Journey to Quebec .... 






The mail sleigli in which I found myself a passen* 
ger, -was one of the most wretched vehicles imairin- 
ahle. The wind— a north-wester- penetrated tho 
curtains of the machine, at a thousand crevices, and, 
charged with particles of snow so fine as to be almost 
impalpable, communicated to the faces of the pas- 
sengers the sensation of suffering under a hurricane 
of needles. Our route lay through a country flat 
and uninteresting, which presented no object to. 




arrest the attention of a traveller. We breakfasted at 
a wretched cabaret, and the pretensions of the din- 
ner house were not much greater. The fare, how- 
ever, though coarse, was abundant; and proceeding 
on our journey about six o'clock, we reached Lan- 
caster, a town of some note, and famous for its ma- 
nufacture of rifles. After an hour's halt, we again 
started in a sort of covered sledge- waggon, and the 
number of passengers being reduced to myself, my 
servant, and a Hungarian pedlar, we without cere- 
mony ensconced ourselves among the straw in the 
bottom of the cart. 

This part of the journey was comparatively com- 
fortable. I had passed the night before leaving Phila- 
delphia in writing, and " tired nature's kind resto- 
rer" now visited my eyelids very pleasantly. The 
rumbling of the waggon on the vast wooden bridge 
which crosses the Susquehanna at length broke my 
slumber. I rose to gaze on the scener}^, which showed 
finely in the moonlight. There were rocks, and 
giant trees, and a frozen riv^er, and the thought of 
Wyoming lent a charm to them all. In a few mi- 
nutes, however, the Susquehanna was no longer 


visible, and resuming my former position, I again 
became as happy as an oblivion of all earthly cares 
could make me. 

How long I enjoyed this happiness I know not, 
but it was at length effectually dissipated by a most 
unpleasant disturbance. The waggon had stopped, 
and the rascal of a pedlar, in scrambling out of the 
machine, chose to plant his great hobnailed foot on 
the pit of my stomach. My first confused impres- 
sion was that I had been crushed to death by the 
wheel of the Newcastle waggon, or the great ele- 
phant in Exeter Change. But by degrees the truth 
dawned on my bewildered intellect, and though not, 
I trust, much given to swearing, I confess I did 
indulge in a profane objurgation at finding myself 
thus unceremoniously converted into the footstool 
of a Magyar pedlar. 

Even to my own perceptions at the moment, how- 
ever, there was something laughable in the whole 
affair. To be stretched alongside of my servant in 
straw on the bottom of a cart, and in such pickle to 
be trampled on by a common hawker of thimbles and 
pockethandkerchiefs ! But travelling in America 


is like misery, for it occasionally brings a man 
acquainted with strange bedfellows. 

I had already found, that in travelling, it was im- 
possible to adhere to those conventional regulations 
in regard to servants w^iich in England are held to 
be inviolable. It is the invariable custom in this 
country for all the passengers of a stage-coach to eat 
at the same table, and the time allowed for meals is 
so short, that unless John dines with his master, the 
chances are that he goes without dinner altogether. 
I had already learned that in the United States no 
man can put forward pretensions to superiority of any 
kind, Avithout exciting unpleasant observation. A 
traveller, to get on comfortably, must take things as 
he finds them, assume nothing, and get rid as soon 
as possible of all superfluous refinement. He must 
often associate with men, whose companionship he 
cannot but feel carries with it something of degra- 
dation. Yet a person of true breeding will rarely be 
treated with disrespect. He will receive tribute 
without exacting it, and even in this democratic 
country, may safely leave it " to men's opinion, to 
tell the world he is a gentleman." 

YORK. 5 

The day's journey terminated at York, where, after 
all its annoyances and fatigues, I found efficacious 
restoratives in an excellent supper and comfortable 
bed. In America, a traveller's sufferings are rarely 
connected with the table. Go where he may, he 
always finds abundance of good and wholesome food. 
To be sure, if the devil send cooks to any part of the 
world, it is to the United States, for in that country 
it is a rare thing to meet any dish dressed just as it 
ought to be. No attention is paid to the preserving 
of meat, which is generally transferred direct from 
the shambles to the spit. Then the national propen- 
sity for grease is inordinate. It enters largely into the 
composiiion of every dish, and constitutes the sole 
ingredient of many. The very bread is, generally, 
not only impregnated with some unctuous substance, 
but when sent up to the breakfast table, is seen to 
float in a menstruum of oleaginous matter. But 
with all this, a traveller — not a 'Wery particular 
gentleman" — will have very little cause of complaint. 
At dinner he will always find ham, turkey, and a 
joint of some kind ; and if with such materials he 
cannot contrive to make a tolerable meal, it is pretty 


evident tbat lie has mistaken his vocation, and should 
limit his journeys to an annual migration between 
Pali-Mall and the Palais Royal. 

In the morning we left York. Inured, as I had 
been, on the present journey, to what appeared the 
most wretched vehicles on earth, I soon discovered 
in the one in which I now embarked, an illustration 
of the adage, that in every depth there is a deeper 
still. Our sleigh was a machine apparently got up 
for the nonce, and consisted merely of rough boards 
nailed together in the form of an oblong box, with a 
drapery and roof of common calico. There were 
narrow cross boards for seats, on which the passen- 
gers — six in number — were compelled to sit bolt up- 
right without support of any kind. This was not 
comfortable, but the snow was smooth and firm, 
and we rattled on very fast and very smoothly, 
and soon after nightfall, I found myself in Balti- 

Before leaving Philadelphia, I had written to a fel- 
low-passenger to secure apartments for me in the 
Indian Queen, and on my arrival found every thing 
prepared. On the whole, I was, perhaps, more com- 


fortable in this hotel than in any other during the 
whole course of my tour. The culinary arrange- 
ments of the establishment were excellent, and the 
assiduity of an old negro waiter in even anticipating 
my wants, left me only the apprehension, that, by 
excess of present comfort, I might become less 
patient under future privations. 

I was now in a slave state, and the knowledge of 
being so, brought with it something of excitation. 
I had never even seen a slave, and my fancy 
had framed a sort of abstract impersonation of the 
whole class, — a being of strong passions and melan- 
choly aspect, crushed by labour, degraded by igno- 
rance, brutalized by the lash ; in short, a monster 
like that of Frankenstein, human in form, but subject 
only to the influences which affect the animal part 
of our nature. I found the domestics in the hotel 
were all slaves, and there was a certain novelty of 
sensation, half pleasant and half painful, connected 
with their services. For the first time in my life, 
did I bless God for the whiteness of my skin. 

It was not in the class of domestic servants, how- 
ever, that I could reasonably expect to discover the 


marked peculiarities which my imagination had 
pictured as the badge of all the tribe. My idea of 
a slave had always been associated with field labour, 
a burning sun, and the splendid peculiarities of tro- 
pical scenery. In the hotel, I saw only decent-look- 
ing waiters and housemaids, observant of all external 
proprieties of demeanour, discharging their several 
duties with exactitude, and distinguishable from 
European servants by nothing but colour. 

Of the secrets of the prison-house, — of the modes 
adopted to enforce obedience in those unhappy crea- 
tures, I know nothing from personal observation, 
^.nd certainly those witli whom I conversed made 
no complaints of their condition. My servant, 
however, was admitted rather more behind the 
scenes, and made some rather shocking reports of 
inflictions by broomsticks and cow-hides, which it 
had been his fortune to witness. In regard to one 
atrocity, I remember he was particularly eloquent. 
The master or mistress of the establishment, for 
reasons no doubt deemed satisfactory, judged it 
expedient to lay open the skull of poor Boots with 
the spit or poker, and in corroboration of the charge. 


I can certainly testify Laving observed that function- 
ary witli liis dexter organ of secretiveness covered 
by a plaster. But in gentlemen's families, of course, 
such disgraceful scenes do not occur, being utterly 
irreconcilable with that benevolent intelligence, by 
which the citizens of Baltimore are eminently 

It is indeed highly probable that Maryland will 
not long continue to be disgraced by the existence 
of slavery within its boundaries. The agricultural 
staples of the State are corn and tobacco, the climate 
is healthy and temperate, nor is there any possible 
reason why the system of slave labour might not be 
instantly abolished. The continuance of the curse 
— and a curse deeper and more deadly never was 
inflicted on any community — is entirely gratuitous, the 
consequence of long habit and deep-rooted prejudice, 
rather than any beneficial result which it can even 
be imagined to produce. In the more southern 
states it is diff'erent. The climate is less salubrious, 
and the cultivation of rice or sugar certainly could 
not be carried on without slave labour. The imme- 
diate interests of the proprietors, therefore, are deci- 


dedly opposed to emancipation. Whenever it shall 
take place, it is certain that vast tracts of country, 
at present highly productive, will be thrown out of 
cultivation. But in Maryland, and even in Virginia, 
such difficulties do not occur. There slave labour 
would instantly be replaced by that of freemen, to the 
infinite benefit of the landed proprietors, and the 
general advancement of morals in the whole com- 
munity. In the adjoining state of Pennsylvania, the 
experiment has been already tried, with the most 
complete success. The introduction of free labour 
seemed to operate like a charm. A load was instantly 
removed which had impeded the natural energies of 
the population, and Pennsylvania has since continued 
to advance in intelligence and prosperity, with a 
vigour and rapidity, to which no parallel can be 
found among her slave-holding competitors. 

Baltimore stands on the Patapsco, a small river 
which discharges its waters into the Chesapeake. 
Its general aspect very much resembles that of 
Boston, though the streets display somewhat more 
of regularity in their architecture. The trade of Bal- 
timore is very considerable, yet there is less appear- 



ance of bustle and business than either in New York 
or Boston. It is, I believe, the greatest mart of flour 
in the world, and the amount of its exports of this 
article considerably exceed those of any other city of 
the Union. The prevalent religion is the Roman Ca- 
tholic, and the Archiepiscopal Cathedral is perhaps 
the chief lion of the place. It is built in form of a 
cross, with a dome in the centre, by no means happily 
proportioned to the dimensions of the building. It 
contains a few inferior pictures, some of which were 
presented by the late King of France. The effect of 
the building is poor, though the interior might be 
greatly improved by the distribution of statues and 
altars along the walls, to get rid of the bareness, which 
at present is scarcely diminished by a few pilasters. 
Baltimore has the honour, I believe, of being the 
first city which has raised an architectural memorial 
of its gratitude to Washington. It consists of a 
column of white marble rising from a quadrangular 
base. The shaft of the column is about a hundred 
and twenty feet high, and is surmounted by a co- 
lossal statue, which, from its throne, seems proudly 
to overlook the city. The design of this monument, 


wliicli is yet unfinislied, is simple and grand, and 
does honour to the taste of the city. Its m-oss 
height, including the statue and pedestal, is ahout 
a hundred and sixty feet. 

In one of the squares of the city, there is what is 
called the Battle Monument, a sort of trophy column, 
erected to commemorate the repulse of the attack on 
the city during the late war, and the names of those 
who fell in its defence. This structure, which is 
about fifty feet in height, consists of a column repre- 
senting the Roman fasces, symbolical of the Union, 
rising from a square pedestal, which tapers in the 
Egyptian style, with a griffin at each corner. Above, 
is the statue of Victory, wdth an eagle at her side. 
The effect of the whole is sadly injured by a most 
anomalous complexity of petty details. Indeed, 
so vicious is this monument in point of taste, that 
it is difficult to believe it the production of the same 
period which has adorned the city with the noble 
structure to Washington. 

I remember being asked by a lady, in one of the 
first visits I paid in Baltimore, whether I had seen 
this monument. Having answered in the negative, 


she proceeded to inform me that it was very beauti- 
ful, but, as if struck by a sudden recollection, some- 
what eagerly apologized for the introduction of the 
subject, on account of the painful feelings which 
this memorial of failure in his country's arms, could 
not fail to excite in an English spectator. In reply, 
I took the liberty to assure her that her regrets on 
this matter were entirely gratuitous ; that I should 
have great pleasure in examining the monument, 
and really entertained no apprehension of suffering 
from any pungency of feeling on the occasion. It 
was easy to observe, however, that my disclaimers, 
like the inaugural nolo episcopari of the Bishops, 
went for nothing with my fair auditor. Her apolo- 
gies for having wounded my feelings, became even 
more strenuous than before ; and as it was evidently 
agreeable that I should appear in the light of a mor- 
tified man, I at length judged it better to desist from 
further disclamation. If I know any thing of John 
Bull, he is not quite so sensitive a person, as it 
pleases the good people on this side of the water to 
believe him ; and the idea of an Englishman at the 
present day, being distressed by regret at the failure 


of tlie attack on Baltimore, is perhaps somewhat 
closely connected with the ludicrous. 

Baltimore is celebrated for hospitality, and the 
beanty of its women, and I can bear testimony to 
the justice of its reputation for both. In no other 
city of the United States is the former so frequent 
and habitual, and in none are there so few of the 
sordid characteristics of traffic apparent to a stranger. 
There struck me as being at Baltimore, more effort 
than elsewhere, to combine the pleasures of social 
life with professional labour. The effect of this is 
generally felt in society. The tone of conversation 
is lighter and more agreeable, and topics of mere 
commercial interest are rarely obtruded at the din- 
ner table. 

In Baltimore there is not much pretension of any 
sort, and the average of literary accomplishment is 
perhaps lower than in Philadelphia or Boston. In 
such matters, however, a transient visitor can form 
at best but an uncertain and very fallible judgment; 
but I can with truth assert, that my recollections of 
Baltimore are of the most agreeable kind, and that 
I quitted it with a strong sentiment of regard for 


several of its iiiliabitantSj whicli time has yet done 
notliing to diminisli. 

The ladies of Baltimore, 1 have already intimated, 
are remarkable for personal attraction ; indeed, I am 
not aware that, in proportion to the numbers as- 
sembled, I have ever seen so much beauty as in the 
parties of Baltimore. The figure is perhaps defi- 
cient in height, but sylphlike and graceful; the 
features are generally regular and delicately model- 
led, and the fair Baltimoreans are less remarkable 
than American ladies usually are for the absence of 
a certain fulness and grace of proportion, to which, 
from its rarity, one is led perhaps to attach somewhat 
too much value as an ingredient of beauty. 

The figure of an American lady, when past the 
first bloom of youth, presents an aggregate of 
straight lines and corners altogether ungraceful 
and inharmonious. There is an overweening pro- 
portion of bone, which occasionally protrudes in 
quarters where it certainly adds nothing to the 
general charms of the person. The result is, per- 
haps, a certain tendency to scragginess, which I 
have no doubt to the eye of a young poet would be 


exceedingly annoying. A middle-aged gentleman, 
however, looks on siicli objects througli a medium 
more philosophical ; and I imagine, that, were it 
possible to combine the scattered and impalpable 
elements of female attraction, and to form a fair 
estimate of their amount, the ladies of the United 
States would have no deficiency to lament in com- 
parison with other nations. 

The trade of Baltimore, I have been assured, has, 
within the last twenty years, been greatly on the 
decline. During the long war which agitated Eu- 
rope, America enjoyed nearly the whole carrying 
trade of the world. While her flag had only to 
brave the breeze, and not the battle, it was to be 
seen waving in every sea and in every harbour of 
the world. Wealth flowed in on her from all quar- 
ters, and, like the lawyer in the fable, while each of 
the belligerents received a shell in the shape of vic- 
tories and Extraordinary Gazettes, this prudent and 
sagacious people contrived to keep possession of the 
oyster. But the United States at length resigned 
the innumerable benefits of neutrality. Mr Madi- 
son's proclamation of war was the signal for the 


decay of Baltimore ; and the terminLitlon of hosti- 
lities in Europe having left other nations at liberty 
to exert their natural advantages in the pursuits of 
commerce, the harbour is now comparatively de- 
serted, and the quays are no longer thronged with 
a busy and bustling crowd, as in the good old times, 
when people in Europe cut each other's throats 
because they happened to live on different sides of 
the Pyrenees, or were divided by the Rhine. 

The worthy citizens of Baltimore no doubt de- 
plore with great sincerity the decrease of pugnacity 
among their European brethren. Indeed I have heard 
since my arrival in America the toast of " A bloody 
war in Europe " drank with enthusiasm. The general 
progress of intelligence is unquestionably adverse 
to the gratification of the humane aspirations of 
these republican philanthropists ; but a still greater 
obstacle consists in a prevailing deficiency in what 
is emphatically called the sinews of war. If the 
people of the United States, for the sake of getting 
up a good desolating war, which may tend event- 
ually to their advantage, will only pay the piper to 
set the thing fairly agoing, they may, no doubt, as 



matters at present stand in Europe, be indulged 
with hostilities to any profitable amount. A note, 
a word, from Metternich or Talleyrand, will do the 
business ; and the Continent, from Moscow to Ma- 
drid, will witness a repetition of the same scenes 
with which it must already be tolerably familiar. 
Indeed, without any such exercise of liberality on 
Jonathan's part, it is only too probable that his wish 
may erelong be gratified ; and certainly, if wealth 
is to flow from such a source, it could not have a 
better destination than the pockets of the good citi- 
zens of Baltimore, who would not fail to employ it 
liberally in acts of benevolence and hospitality. 

Being anxious to witness some of the proceedings 
of the State Legislatures, it was my intention to 
proceed to Annapolis, the seat of government, 
where both houses were in session. To this pro- 
ject, however, I found my Baltimore friends exceed- 
ingly adverse. They assured me that I would meet 
mth nothing at Annapolis to repay the trouble 
of the journey ; that the inns were bad, the roads 
still worse, and their representatives very far from 
incarnations either of good breeding or absolute 


wisdom. I own that all this had rather the effect of 
stimulating my curiosity than repressing it; and, 
in spite of all obstacles, I should probably have 
visited Annapolis, had I not received a letter from, 
a friend in Washington, informing me, that, unless 
I repaired immediately to the seat of the General 
Government, the opportunity of observing tlie pro- 
ceedings of Congress in the discharge of their more 
interesting duties would be lost. I therefore deter- 
mined on setting out for Washington without farther 
delay, and bade a temporary farewell to my friends 
in Baltimore, whom I rejoiced in the prospect of 
re'vdsiting before proceeding in my route to the south- 

While at Baltimore, I enjoyed the honour of intro- 
duction to Mr Carrol, the last survivor of that band 
of brave men, who signed the declaration of their 
country's independence. Mr Carrol is in his ninety- 
fifth year, yet enjoys the full use of all his faculties, 
and takes pleasure in social intercourse, which he 
enlivens by a fund of valuable anecdote. It was with 
great interest that I heard this aged patriot speak of 
the companions of his youth. Jay, Adams, Jeffer- 


son, and Hamiltou, and describe those scenes of 
stormy struggle, in which he had himself partaken 
with honorable distinction. Baltimore, which now 
contains nearly eighty thousand inhabitants, he re- 
members a pretty fishing hamlet of some half dozen 
4iouses. But the progress of change tbroughout the 
■whole Union has been equally rapid. Little more 
than half a century ago, the Americans were a hand- 
ful of poor colonists, drivers of slaves and smal 
traffic in lumber and tobacco, from whom it was the 
policy of the mother country to squeeze all she could, 
and give nothing in return which it might be at all 
-profitable to keep. With a judicious economy of 
gibbets and jail room at home, she was so obliging 
us to accelerate the natural increase of population 
by the transmission of certain gentlemen and ladies, 
who, being found somewhat awkwardly deficient in 
the ethics of property in their own country, were des- 
patched to improve their manners on the plantations 
of Maryland and Virginia. Then, in her motherly 
care, she fenced in their trade with all manner of 
restrictions, which could in any way contribute to 
the replenishing of her own parental exchequer, 


and, to crown her benefits, conclescended to export a 
copious supply of Lord Johns and Lord Charleses, 
to fill their empty pocket?, and keep the people in 
good humour, with fine speeches, strong prisons, 
and a round military force. 

All this Mr Carrol remembers, but he has lived to 
see a state of matters somewhat different. The co- 
lonies have disappeared, and in their place has risen 
a powerful confederation of free states, spreading a 
population of twelve millions over a vast extent of 
fertile territory, and possessing a commerce and ma- 
rine second only to those of that nation from whom 
they boast their descent. He beholds his country- 
men as happy as the unfettered enjoyment of their 
great natural advantages, and institutions of the 
broadest democracy, can make them. He sees whole 
regions, formerly the savage haunts of the panther 
and the wild Indian, covered with the dwellings of 
civilized, and Christian man. The mighty rivers, on 
which a few wretched jiaU used to make with diffi- 
culty an annual voyage, he now sees covered with 
steam- vessels of gigantic size, and loaded with valu- 
able merchandize. He has seen lakes in the very 


heart of a great continent, formerly approachable 
only by some adventurous traveller, connected with 
the ocean by means of canals. In short, the lot of 
Mr Carrol has been cast in what must ever be the 
most eventful period of his country's history; and 
having witnessed changes so vast and extraordinary, 
and beheld the whole of his early companions, one by 
one, drop into the grave, this venerable patriot may 
well be content to follow them, happy till the last in 
the enjoyment of the attachment of his family, and 
the esteem and reverence of his fellow-citizens.* 

For the last fortnight the weather had been very 
bad. Heavy falls of snow had been alternated with 
thaws, and considerable difficulty was anticipated 
in accomplishing the journey to Washington. The 
perils of travelling, however, are generally greater 
in expectation than experience, and we got over the 
distance, forty miles, with greater facility, and fewer 
moving accidents, than I should have been glad to 

* Mr Carrol, since my return to England, has paid the debt of 
nature. When the intelligence of his death reached Washington, 
both houses immediately adjourned, in testimony of respect for this 
" xtllimus Bomanorum.'" 


Lave compounded for, before leaving Baltimore. I 
was looking from the window of the coach, in a sort 
of brown study, at fields covered with snow, when 
one of my fellow-passengers enquired how I liked 
Washington. *' I will tell you when I see it," was 
my reply. " Why, you have been in Washington 
for the last quarter-of-an-hour," rejoined my fellow- 
traveller. And so it was ; yet nothing could I dis- 
cern but a miserable cottage or two occasionally 
skirting the road at wide intervals. Presently, 
however, we came on the Capitol, and winding 
round the eminence on which it stands, rattled gaily 
down Pennsylvania Avenue, the principal street 
of the city. Houses now began to appear at some- 
what closer distances, and every here and there was 
what is called in the vernacular of the country " a 
block of building," or, in other words, a connected 
range of shops and dwelling-houses. The coach at 
length stopped at Gadsby's hotel, where — though 
with some difficulty — I succeeded in procuring 

When I arrived it was little more than three 
o'clock, so, in order to pass the time till dinner, I 


sallied forth to view the lions. The Capitol stands 
on elevated ground, and it consists of a centre and 
wings. It is covered with whitewash, which the 
Americans say was necessary to hide the smoke of 
the conflagration in 1814. This is nonsense. The 
smoke-marks, instead of injuring, would probably 
have improved the effect of the building, and dimi- 
nished that rawness of aspect, which is so" strongly 
opposed to architectural beauty. The structure is 
certainly imposing, both from situation and magni- 
tude, though full of faults. The greatest is want of 
simplicity and definite character. The different 
parts of the building are good, but I could not help 
feeling that there was a general deficiency of con- 
gruity and adaptation. Like a volume of the Ele- 
gant Extracts, it contains a great many fine things, 
without any assignable affinity to account for their 
collocation. In the principal front — the western — 
the facade is broken from the wings being thrown 
back. This is unfortunate, and the effect is still 
further injured by the basement of the centre being 
brought too prominently into view. The vestibule 
opens on a large circular hall, which occupies the 


centre of the building, and is Uglited by tlie dome. 
This spacious apartment is adorned by four pictures 
by Colonel Trumbullj a gentleman distinguished both 
as a patriot and an artist. He bore, I believe, con- 
siderable part in the contest of the Revolution, and 
has since been employed by the General Government 
to commemorate, by his pencil, those triumphs to 
which he contributed v^ith his sword. The subjects 
he has selected, are the surrender of Burgoyne, the 
Declaration of Independence, the surrender of York 
Town, and Washington's resignation of his command 
at the termination of the war. Regarding these 
pictures merely as works of art, it is impossible to 
compliment Colonel Trumbull on his success. The 
truth is, the subjects are unmanageable. In the 
Declaration of Independence, we have a respectable 
congregation of decent farmer-looking men, staring 
quite as vacantly, from under their periwigs, as the 
solemnity of the occasion could possibly demand, 
A few are seated or standing at the table, which dis- 
plays a large scroll of parchment. The rest are seated 
on benches, waiting apparently with exemplary pa- 

VOL. II. c 


tience the completion of the important document. 
Out of such materials Titian himself could not have 
made a picture. The subject admits of no action, 
nor of strong emotion of any kind. Then the quan- 
tity of canvass which is devoted to coat, waistcoat, 
and breeches, and the rows of clumsy legs without 
one bit of drapery to conceal them ! 

The other pictures are better, though they too 
involved great difficulties of management. The artist 
has patriotically given toBurgoyne a certain craven 
look, which has at least the fault of being common- 
place in conception. In the figure of Washington, 
however. Colonel Trumb all has been very successful. 
There is a calm and unobtrusive grandeur about him, 
which satisfies the imagination. We are content to 
believe that the soul of the hero animated such a form 
as that we gaze on in Colonel TrumbulPs canvass, 
and our interest is heightened by the knowledge, 
that the artist has given us a faithful portrait of the 
great man with whom in early life he enjoyed the 
privilege of personal intercourse. 

Having reached the Rotunda, I enquired the way 


to the House of Representatives, and following tlie 
directions I received, found myself at the bottom of 
a narrow stair which led directly to the gallery ap- 
propriated for strangers. On ascending, I entered 
a splendid semicircular saloon, round the arc of which 
is a range of anomalous columns, composed of breccia, 
found in the neighbourhood, with a highly-decorated 
entablature of white marble. In the centre of the 
chord is the chair of the Speaker, from which radiate 
seven passages to the circumference, and the desks 
and seats of the members are ranged in concentric 
rows. Behind the chair is a sort of corridor or 
gallery, with a fireplace at either end, and furnished 
with seats and sofas, which serves as a lounging 
place for the members and strangers to whom the 
Speaker may think proper to grant the privilege of 

On my entrance I found the House in animated 
debate, and listened with much interest to the first 
specimens of American eloquence I had enjoyed the 
opportunity of hearing. At five o'clock the House 
adjourned, and I returned to the hotel. 


In the evening I acconipanied a member of Con- 
gi-ess, whose family I had known in Baltimore, to a 
ball given by a lady of his acquaintance, to whom 
he oblis:inuiy assm'ed me that my intrusion would 
be welcome. On arriving, I found a very largo 
party crowded into narrow compass, the liouses at 
Wiishington being generally on a smaller scale than 
in the other cities I had visited. During the evening 
I had to pass through a formidable array of intro- 
ductions to distinguished individuals, and after four 
hours of almost unbroken conversation, much of 
which coukl not be carried on without considerable 
expenditure of thought, I confess I did feel some- 
what tired, and about three in the morning rejoiced 
to find myself stretched in a comfortable bed at 

The capital of the Federal Union is situated on a 
point of land formed by a bifurcation of the Poto- 
mac, about a hundred and twenty miles from 
the sea. Attached to it is a territory ten miles 
square, called the district of Columbia, which, ixi 
order to secure the complete independence of the 


general government, is placed under tlie immediate 
control of Congress. It would have been inconsistent 
with the American character, had the original plan 
of the future metropolis not been framed on a scale 
of gigantic magnitude. A parallelogram, nearly five 
miles in length, and more than two in breadth, was 
at once parcelled out with pleasing regularity into 
streets, squares, and avenues, and preparations were 
fondly made for the rapid growth of a city, compared 
with which London would dwindle into a village. In 
short, nothing could be more splendid than Wash- 
ington on paper, and nothing more entirely the re- 
verse of splendid than the real city, when at wide 
intervals a ^qw paltry houses were seen to arise amid 
the surrounding forest. 

The founders of Washington imagined it would 
become the seat of a large foreign commerce. This 
expectation has been disappointed. Washington has 
no trade of any kind, and there is at present no 
prospect of its ever possessing any. Its only hopes 
iiCQ now founded on its advantages as the seat of go- 
vernment, which must secure to it the benefit arising 


from the expenditure of a large diplomatic body, and 
of those immediately connected with the executive 

Many years have passed since the foundation of 
Washington, and it has at length begun to assume 
something of the appearance of a city. It is not 
easy, how^ever, to detect in its present aspect any 
thing of that system and regularity so delightful in 
the scheme of its founders. Instead of commencing 
this gigantic undertaking at a central point, it was 
considered most judicious to begin at the extremities, 
and build inward from the circumference. The 
consequence has been, that there is perhaps no city 
in the world of the same population, in which the 
distances to be traversed in the ordinary intercourse 
of society are so large. The most glaring want in 
Washington is that of compactness and consistency. 
The Louses are scattered in straggling groups, three 
in one quarter, and half a dozen in another ; and ever 
and anon our compassion is excited by some discon- 
solate dwelling, the first and last born of a square 
or crescent yet in nuhibus, suffering like an ancient 


maiden in the mournful solitude of single blessed- 

There is nothing sordid in Washington, but no- 
thing, at the same thne, which claims a higher praise 
than is implied in the epithet respectable. The 
chief street of the city is called Pennsylvania Avenue, 
and extends from the Capitol to the President's house, 
a distance, which I guessed in Avalking it to be about 
a mile and a half. Near to the latter of these build- 
ings are the public offices, unadorned edifices of 
brick, with nothing about them which it would be 
very easy either to censure or admire. In this quarter 
also are the houses of the foreign ministers, and 
generally of the members of the Cabinet, so that 
its claims to being the Court end are undeniable. 

On the morning after my arrival, having des- 
patched my letters, I returned to the Capitol, where 
I passed the morning very agreeably in the Senate 
and the House of Representatives. The Speaker of 
the latter, and the Vice-President of the United 
States, who presides in the former, — to both of whom 
I had the honour to be the bearer of introductions, — 
were obliging enough to grant me the privilege of 


mire to tlie body of the house, so that during. my 
stay in Washington I enjoyed the advantage of being 
able to listen to the debates without any of the jost- 
ling and inconvenience often unavoidable in the 

I have already described the hall of the Repre- 
sentatives : I would now say something of tlio 
members. Their aspect as a body was certainly 
somewhat different from any idea I had formed of 
a legislative assembly. Many were well dressed, 
and of appearance sufficiently senatorial to satisfy 
the utmost demands even of a severer critic in such 
matters than I pretend to be. But a large propor- 
tion undoubtedly struck me as vulgar and uncouth, 
in a degree which nothing in my pre^dous experience 
had prepared me to expect. It is impossible to look 
on these men without at once receiving the convic- 
tion, that they are not gentlemen by habit or educa- 
tion, and assuredly in no society in Europe could they 
be received as such. 

Each member is furnished with a desk, and a con- 
siderable number are usually engaged during the 
progress of public business in writing letters, or 


reading newspapers. Generally speaking, great 
decorum prevails in debate. Neither cheering, nor 
interruption of any kind, is permitted, and it is rare 
that any strenuous exercise of the Speaker's autho- 
rity is demanded for the preservation of order. There 
have been occasions, however, on which the violent 
passions excited by antagonism of opinion, combined 
with personal dislike, have led to scenes perhaps 
unprecedented in any other deliberative assembly 
in the world. But the course of debate, though 
often troubled and vehement, is rarely violent, 
and the moral sense of propriety entertained by the 
majority of the House, is practically found to operate 
as a sufficient restraint on the irritable passions of 

The hall of the Senate is a good deal smaller than 
that of the Representatives, and is very elegantly 
fitted up. It is likewise in the form of a semicircle, 
with desks at convenient distances for the members 
who sit uncovered. The President's chair is in the 
centre, and the office of this functionary — so far at 
least as it is connected with the maintenance of 
order — I should imagine to be something of a sine- 


cure. Ill the course of the many debates of the 
Senate at which I was present during my stay in 
Washington, I do not remember any instance in 
which it was found necessary for the President to 
interpose his authority. The appearance of the 
assembly is grave and dignified. The senators are 
generally men of eminence in their several States, 
who may be supposed to bring to the task of legisla- 
tion the results of more mature judgment and varied 
experience. The tone of debate is therefore pitched 
higher than in the more popular House. Questions 
are discussed in a temper more philosophical and 
statesmanlike. The range of argument is widened, 
that of invective narrowed ; and the members of the 
Senate are less given to indulge in those flights of 
vapid and puerile declamation, which prove nothing 
but deficiency of taste and judgment in the orator. 

Washington is undoubtedly the gayest place in 
the Union, and must, I should imagine, be the very 
paradise of hackney- coachmen.* If these gentle- 

* During the first week of my stay in "Washington, I paid thirty 
dollars in coach hire. I then contracted with a man for twenty, to 
have a carriage at my disposal from five in the evening till daylight. 


men do not get rich, it must be owing to some cul- 
pable extravagance, for their vehicles are in conti- 
nual demand from the hour of dinner till five in the 
morning, and long distances and heavy charges are 
all in their favour. Washington, too, is the only- 
place in the Union where people consider it neces- 
sary to be agreeable, — where pleasing, as in the Old 
AVorld, becomes a sort of business, and the enjoy- 
ments of social intercourse enter into the habitual 
calculations of every one. 

The reason of this is obvious enough. The duties of 
legislation bring together a large body of gentlemen 
from all quarters of the Union, whose time in the 
morning is generally passed in the Capitol, but who, 
without the delassements of dinner parties and balls, 
would find their evening hours a burden somewhat 
difficult to dispose of. Idle men are always plea- 
sant; they feel the necessity of being so, and make 

On the first night of the agreement, however, I happened to go to 
four parties, and Jehu drew back from his hargain, and insisted on 
five dollars more. I argued strenuously against this Punica fides, hut, 
finding I could not do better, was forced to give in to his demand. 
The charge for being conveyed to and from a dinner party alone was 
three dollars. 


it tlieir occupation, when they have no otlier. Your 
lawyer or your merchant, on tlie other hand, is so 
engrossed hy weightier matters, that he has no time 
to cultivate the graces of life, or those thousand arts 
of courtesy which contribute so materially to en- 
hance the enjoyments of society. The experience 
of the world is in favour of the assertion, that it is 
impossible to excel both in pleasure and business. 
A man of talent may select the sphere of his ambi- 
tion, the bar, the pulpit, the exchange, the senate, or 
the drawing-room ; but to attempt the honours of a 
double triumph, is, in general, to secure but dupli- 
city of failure. 

In Washington all are idle enough to be as agree- 
able as they can. The business of Congress is no 
great bui'den on the shoulders of any of its mem- 
bers ; and a trip to Washington is generally regard- 
ed as a sort of annual lark, wdiich enables a man to 
pass the winter months more pleasantly than in the 
country. A considerable number of the members 
bring their families, with the view of obtaining in- 
troduction to better society than they can hope to 
meet elsewhere ; but the majority leave such in- 


cumbrances at home, some, it may be presumeda 
from taste, and others from economy. 

There are few families that make Washington 
their permanent residence, and the city, therefore, 
has rather the aspect of a watering-place than the 
metropolis of a great nation. The members of 
Congress generally live together in small boarding- 
houses, which, from all I saw of them, are shabby 
and uncomfortable. Gentlemen with families take 
lodgings, or occupy apartments in a hotel ; and it is 
really marvellous, at the Washington parties, to see 
how many people are contrived to be stowed away 
in a drawino-^room somev/hat smaller than an ordina- 
ry-sized pigeon-house. On such occasions one does 
not suffer so much from heat as from suffocation ; 
for not only does the whole atmosphere become 
tainted in quality, but there seems an absolute de- 
ficiency in quantity for the pulmonary demands of 
the company. 

Within a few days of my arrival, I enjoyed an 
opportunity of seeing at one comprehensive view 
the whole society of Washington. The French mi- 
nister, who had recently arrived from Europe, had 


determined to open his diplomatic career by a splen- 
did ball, an event of no ordinary magnitude in a 
society like that of Washington. On my arrival, I 
found the house, though a large one, filled even to 
overflow, by one of the motliest crowds in which it 
had ever been my fortune to mingle. The members 
of the foreign legations were of course present ; and 
the contrast between their appearance, and that of 
a considerable portion of the company, was more 
striking than will readily be considered credible in 
England. I presume the invitation to members of 
Congress had been indiscriminate, for the party 
was adorned by many members of that body who 
would not probably have been present on any prin- 
ciple of selection. Many of the gentlemen had 
evidently not thought it necessary to make any change 
in their morning habiliments, and their boots cer- 
tainly displayed no indication of any recent intimacy 
with Day and Martin. Others were in worsted 
stockings, and their garments, made evidently by 
some tailor of the backwoods, were of a fashion which, 
when displayed amid a scene so brilliant, was some- 
what provocative of a smile. I was informed that 


the gentlemen wliose appearance I have attempted 
to describe, were chiefly members from the Western 
States, and they might be seen parading the apart- 
ments with ladies of aspect quite as unique, and 
sometimes even more grotesque than their own. 

The majority of tlie company, however, were 
unobjectionable, and the scene altogether was very 
interesting to a traveller, whose object was to see 
every thing which could at all illustrate the general 
condition of manners and society in the United States. 
It afforded me the advantage of introduction to many 
persons of eminence with whose reputation I was 
already familiar ; and, after partaking with partial 
success in the scramble for supper, I returned home, 
satisfied that my hours had been very far from unpro- 
fitably spent. 

Mr Vaughan, the British minister, being indis- 
posed, was good enough to request Mr Van Bur en, 
the Secretary of State, to present me to the President. 
The hour appointed was two o'clock on the day fol- 
lowing ; and, having to deal with personages of such 
importance, I was of course punctual in my attend- 
ance. The President's house is rather a handsome 


building, with a portico in front of four columns, of 
what order I forget. It is built of stone, but the 
walls, like those of the Capitol, are coated with 
whitewash. The entrance hall is spacious, and we 
w^ere received in a plainly furnished apartment, 
without ornament of any kind. The President was 
seated in an easy-chair, from which he arose on 
our entrance, and, on my name being announced, 
very cordially presented his hand, and requested me 
to occupy a chair beside him. INIr Van Bur en then 
took his departure, and I enjoyed half an hour's 
very pleasant conversation with this distinguished 

General Jackson is somewhat above the middle 
height, spare, and well formed. Though he has 
probably numbered m-ore than the j^ears specified 
by the Psalmist as forming the ordinary limit of 
human life, no symptom of decrepitude is visible in 
his air or motions. His hair, though nearly white, 
is abundant, and on the upper part of the head 
bristles up somewhat stiffly. The forehead is nei- 
ther bold nor expansive, though by no means defi- 
cient in height. The head, like that of Sir Walter 



Scott, is particularly narrow in the region of 
ideality. The countenance of General Jackson is 
prepossessing; the features are strongly defined, 
yet not coarse ; and, even at his advanced age, the 
expression of the eye is keen and vivid. The manner 
of the President is very pleasing. He evidently feels 
the dignity of his high office, and supports it; but 
there is no exaction of external deference beyond that 
which in ordinary society one gentleman is entitled 
to claim from another. One sees nothing of courtly 
elegance, but, on the other hand, nothing which the 
most rigid critic could attribute to coarseness or 

The conversation I had the honour of holding 
with this distinguished person related principally to 
European politics. The world was then occupied 
with Poland, her wrongs, her sufferings, her chances 
of success in the unequal contest with the vast power 
of Russia. This subject naturally led to the general 
prospects of Europe, the progress of intelligence, 
and the probable duration of peace. Of course these 
were matters which did not admit of much noveky 
either of thought or illustration, but the observations 



of General Jackson were always marked by sagacity, 
and a certain directness botli of thought and ex- 
pression for which European statesmen are rarely 
remarkable. On the whole, I retired from the 
interview with sentiments of very sincere respect 
both for the intellectual and moral qualities of the 
American President. 

In the hotel tliere was a mission from one of 
the more distant Indian tribes — the Mnemonics, I 
believe, — who were entertained during their stay in 
Washington at the public expense. There were five or 
six men, not handsome, certainly, in the European 
sense of the term, but fine athletic weather-beaten- 
looking fellows, and quite as savage in appearance 
as the most ardent hunter of the picturesque could 
possibly desire. Their faces and foreheads were daub- 
ed with red paint, and my fair readers will probably 
rgree that rouge, however becoming on the cheek, 
must lose much of its efficacy as a cosmetic, when 
exhibited on the forehead and the nose. The hair, 
— indeed, the whole person, was anointed with 
some unctuous substance, the odour of Avhicli was 
far from agreeable. The distinguishing, and almost 


invariable cliaracteristics of the Indian countenance, 
are generally known. The head round and some- 
what flat on the summit, the hair dark, the eye full 
but not protuberant, the bones of the cheek promi- 
nent, the nose short, low, and dilated, the mouth 
large, the lips full and rarely compressed, and the 
general form of the face a broad oval. 

In person, those composing the deputation were 
below the middle height, and certainly owed nothing 
to the decoration of the toilet. Several of them wore 
only a blanket fastened in front by a skewer, and 
their hair was stuck over with feathers. There were 
two ladies attached to the mission, neither of whom 
were good-looking, being in person short and squab, 
and deficient in that expression of grave and dig- 
nified intelligence which distinguishes the males. 

There were also several children, and I desired 
the waiter, if possible, to induce some of them to 
pay me a visit. One evening he brought in two, a 
boy and a girl. The girl seemed about eleven or 
twelve years old. Her costume consisted of a sort of 
printed bed-gown without sleeves, fastened close up 
to the throat ; trowsers, mocassins or leggins of deer 


skin, worn generally by the Indians, and the whole 
covered by a blanket, the . drapery of which she 
really managed with a good deal of grace. In each 
ear she wore two. large silver earrings. Fastened to 
the crown of the head, was a piece of blue ribbon 
which hung down not unbecomingly on one side of 
the face. 

The boy was apparently younger by two or three 
years, and a fine manly little fellow. He also wore 
a blanket by way of Benjamin ; but instead of a bed- 
gown, rejoiced in a long coat, the tails of which 
reached almost to his heels, and which being made 
for some one of form and dimensions very different, 
^vas not remarkable for felicity of adaptation. Nei- 
ther could speak English, but the boy evidently was 
the leading person, the girl only following his ex- 

Having a bottle of claret on the table, I filled each 
of them a glass, but the flavour of the wine did not 
seem to meet their approbation. They ate almonds 
and raisins, but evidently without relish, and wal- 
nuts had no better success. I then gave them cigars, 
which they appeared to enjoy j indeed I never saw any 


one blow a cloud witli greater zest than the young- 
lady. The failure of the claret then induced me 
to try the effect of stronger potations, and I brought 
a bottle of Eau de Cologne from my dre'ssing table, 
the contents of which they finished without difficulty, 
or apparent inconvenien\;e from the strength of the 
spiri t. 

They remained with me about half an hour, du- 
ring the whole of which time they supported the 
sober gravity of demeanour, which the Indians con- 
sider to be inseparable from true dignity. Nothing 
seemed to excite surprise, and the only symptom of 
animation they displayed, was on catching a view of 
their own countenances in a mirror, when they both 
laughed. During their whole visit, neither uttered 
a word, but when I gave the girl a dollar, explaining 
to her by signs that half of it was to be given to her 
brother, she readily understood me, and nodded her 
head in promise of compliance. At length the boy 
rose to take leave, followed by the young lady, and 
shaking hands with me, they strode out of the apart- 
ment with a sort of barbaric grace which well became 
these children of the wilderness. 


Before quitting the subject of these Indians, whose 
wild appearance had excited in my imagination a 
thousand fantastic associations, I must mention one 
circumstance which I found sadly hostile to poeti- 
cal interest. One morning, a few days before leav- 
ing Washington, I observed my diplomatic friends, 
lounging and walking about as usual in the gallery of 
the hotel, but, alas ! how miserably transmogrified ! 
Their " Great Father," the President, had, it appear- 
ed, preparatory to their departure, presented each per- 
son attached to the mission with a new coat, in shape 
something like that worn by a coachman, and of blue 
cloth, turned up at the collar and cuffs with scarlet. 
The women wore cloaks of the same colours and 
materials, and my two little friends, whose barbaric 
appearance had been so delightful, now exhibited 
like the footboy in green livery, whom Hazlitt de- 
scribes as having contributed so much to the splen- 
dours of Barry Cornwall's tea parties. In short, 
instead of Indian chiefs, I saw before me a set of 
beings who reminded one of the servants' hall, cer- 
tainly not the most pleasing or genial region for the 
fancy to wander in. The poor men, however, seem- 


ed so proud of tlieir new finery, and to do them 
justice, strutted in it witli so grand an air, tliat it 
almost became doubtful whether the effect of this 
anomalous conjunction was not rather to ennoble 
the livery, than to degrade brave men who never 
before had suffered degradation. • 




In tlie observations I have already hazarded on 
the character of the federal government, it was my 
object simply to illustrate the fallacy of the leading 
and fundamental principles on which it is established. 
I would now willingly be permitted to direct the 
attention of the reader to those practical defects, 
arising from want of congruity and adaptation in its 
separate institutions, which have contributed mate- 
rially to derange the whole action of the machine. 

The colonies had no sooner achieved their inde- 
pendence, than they became desirous of establishing 
such an union between the different States, as miVht 
maintain tranquillity at home, and ensure unity in 
their relations to foreign powers. In 1787, a con- 


vention, over which Washington presided, was held 
in the city of Philadelphia. This convention con- 
sisted of delegates from all the States, with the ex- 
ception of Rhode Island. After long deliheration, 
the plan of government, which forms the present 
federal constitution, was recommended and submitted 
for the separate consideration of the different States^ 
In each of these a convention was assembled, and 
in 1789, the constitution, all the necessary formali* 
ties having been gone through, was duly organized 
and put in operation. 

The legislative power conferred by this constitution 
is vested in Congress, which consists of two bodies — 
the House of Representatives and the Senate. The 
former of these is chosen biennially, in a proportion 
not exceeding one member for every thirty thousand 
inhabitants. The minimum only being specified. 
Congress possesses the power of extending the num- 
ber of electors who are to enjoy the privilege of re- 
turning a member. No person is eligible to this 
assembly who is not twenty-five years old, who is 
not resident in the State in which he is chosen, or 
who has not enjoyed the privileges of citizenship for 


seven years. No qualification in property is required, 
and the right of suffrage is universal, or nearly so. 

This system of representation, though simple 
enough, is connected with some anomalies. The 
slave-holding States enjoy the privilege of sending 
more representatives than the others. The total 
numher of white persons, and three-fifths of the 
slave population, constitute the amount to which the 
right of representation has been accorded. Thus, 
suppose the States of Ohio and Virghiia each to 
contain one million of white inhabitants, and the 
latter to possess half a million of slaves, while the 
former has none ; Virginia will send representatives 
to Congress, on a population of 1,300,000, and of 
course will exercise the greater influence in the na- 
tional councils. 

The Senate is composed of two representatives 
from each State. They are elected by the State legis- 
latures for a term of six years, one-third of the 
number going out by rotation every second year. 
The qualifications demanded for a senator are, that 
he shall be thirty years of age, a citizen of nine 
years standing, and an inhabitant of the state which 
he represents. 


In addition to its legislative functions, the Senate 
is recognised as a branch of the executive. In this 
capacity it is invested with the privilege of ratifying 
or annulling the official appointments of the Presi- 
dent. A treaty with any foreign power is not valid 
until a majority of two-thirds of the Senate shall 
have given it their sanction. 

Some of the particulars stated in this brief out- 
line seem to demand a few observations. In the 
course of the present work, I have already had 
occasion to express my convictions as to the results 
of universal suffrage in a country like the United 
States. But there are other minor points connected 
with the election and constitution of the lesfislative 
bodies, which appear calculated to derogate very 
materially from their usefulness. The regulation, 
that the members of both Houses should be resident 
in the particular State in which they are elected, I 
cannot but consider as particularly objectionable. 
In the first place, it narrows, very unnecessarily, the 
limits of choice in the electors. In the second, it 
tends to promote that sectional feeling, that exclu- 
sive devotion to the petty interests of some particu- 


lar district, which is generally inconsistent with the 
adoption of an enlarged and statesmanlike policy. It 
places the representative in a state of ahsolute de- 
pendence on his immediate constituents, and prevents 
all appeal to other hodies of electors, hy whom his 
talents and principles may be more justly appreciated. 
It prevents a state, in which there happens to be a 
dearth of talent, from availing itself of the super- 
fluity in another. It contributes also to feed and 
keep alive those provincial jealousies, which often 
border so closely on hostility of feeling, and to 
rend er more prevalent in the different States that 
conviction of incompatibility in their various inte- 
rests which threatens at no distant period to cause 
a total disruption of the Union. 

In opposition to the injurious effects of this clause 
of the constitution, what are its good ones ? I can 
discover none. As a precaution to secure the elec- 
tion of members sufficiently acquainted with the 
interests of the particular district they represent, it 
is utterly useless. Indeed, a more gratuitous piece 
of legislation can scarcely be conceived. An Ame- 
rican cannot doubt either the will or the capacity of 


tlie electors to take care of their own interests, and 
to judge of the qualifications of the several candi- 
dates who may solicit their suffrages. Even without 
restriction, it will rarely occur that the inhabitants 
of a particular state or district will elect a stranger 
for their representative. There are a thousand feel- 
ings arising from neighbourhood and habitual inter- 
course in the common business of life, which in 
ordinary cases would prevent this. A candidate 
from a different State would always come into the 
field under great disadvantages. The current of 
local prejudice would be entirely in favour of his 
opponents, and if in spite of every obstacle he did 
succeed in securing his return, what would this 
prove but that he was manifestly the person best 
qualified to discharge the duties of their representa- 
tive ? 

In Great Britain, notwithstanding the experience 
of centuries, no such legislative absurdity ever was 
contemplated. A man from the Land's End may sit 
for Caithness or the Orkneys. A burgess of Ber- 
wick-upon-Tweed may be elected at Cork or Lime- 
rick, In short, a member, without once changing 


Lis domicile, often sits in different Parliaments, for 
different places ; nor has it ever entered tlie imagi- 
nation of any one, tliat this freedom of choice has 
been productive either of injury or inconvenience. 
Its advantages, however, are manifold. An English 
member of Parliament is not necessarily dependent 
on the judgment of his immediate constituents. He 
advocates the particular policy which appears to him 
best calculated to promote the interest of his country, 
and, whatever his opinions may be, he is not afraid 
to express them emphatically and openly. It is no 
doubt possible that this may prevent his re-election 
for some borough or county, but the whole country 
is open to him ; he does not feel himself to be 
meanly subservient to the inhabitants of one parti- 
cular district : and his opinions must be strange in- 
deed, if he cannot find some body of constituents with 
whose notions of policy his own are in accordance. 

But in America all this is different. There no 
man can be elected except for the particular district 
in which he chances to reside. If his opinions differ 
from those which happen to prevail in his own petty 
circle, he is excluded from public life altogether. 


There is no alternative, but that of giving up all 
hope of political distinction, or of speaking and act- 
ing in a manner basely subservient to the prejudices 
and caprices of his constituents. Let a member of 
Congress attempt to follow a bold, manly, and inde- 
pendent course, and he is instantly sent back into 
private life, with his feelings injured, and his future 
chances of success materially diminished by the 
reputation of public failure. 

The absurdity of the amount of representation of 
the different States being at all influenced by the 
number of slaves, is too gross to require elaborate 
exposure. Yet without this, the Union coidd not 
have been effected, owing to the extreme jealousy of 
the Southern States. It is the fashion in America 
to dilate on the anomalies of the British constitu- 
tion, but even the Scottish Highland proprietors, 
though by no means a body celebrated either for 
wisdom or disinterestedness, have not yet ventured 
to petition that the black cattle, which, like slaves in 
Virginia, are sent annually in droves to the south, 
should be taken into the census of population, with 
a view to add to their political influence. 


There can be no doubt, tliat tbe division of tbe 
legislature into two bodies, acting separately, and 
with co-ordinate powers, is founded in wisdom. It 
may be doubted, however, whether in times of ex- 
citement the American Senate would practically be 
found to have any efficient influence in preventing 
violent and hasty legislation. Unlike the British 
House of Peers, the Senate is not composed of mem- 
bers having a direct and personal interest in main- 
taining the privileges of their branch of the legisla- 
ture. They are men taken for a temporary purpose 
from the common walks of life, to which, at the ex- 
piration of their political service, they immediately 
return. They are subject to all the impulses which 
can affect the deliberations of the more popular 
House. In no point of view do they present them- 
selves under the aspect of an independent body. 
They are the creatures of popular favour, and in that, 
like the representatives, they live, move, and have 
their being. The interests, the habits, the modes of 
thought, of both bodies are the same. 

It is in vain, therefore, to look to the American 
Senate as affording any check on the tendency to- 


wards democracy, wliicli is discernible in all the 
workings of the constitution. It was the wish of 
Hamilton, that the Senators should be elected for life, 
and that a considerable qualification of property 
should be attached to the office. Had Washington 
publicly supported him in these views, it is probable 
that a scheme of government, combining greater 
vigour and durability, might have been adopted. 
But Washington, though bold in the field, was 
timid in the cabinet. The opportunity was suffered 
to pass, and from the period of the adoption of the 
present constitution, all hopes of organizing a go- 
vernment on a broader and more permanent basis, 
were for ever at an end. 

The President of the United States is elected for 
four years. On entering office, he takes an oath to 
preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the 
United States. He is Commander-in-Chief of the 
army and navy, and of the militia of the different 
States, when called into actual service by the gene- 
ral government. He has the power of negotiating 
treaties, but not of ratifying them, until sanctioned 
by a majority of two- thirds of the Senate. He no- 


minates all officers, civil and military, but tlie as- 
sent of the Senate is necessary to the validity of the 
appointment. He receives foreign ambassadors. He 
may grant pardons and reprieves, except in cases of 
treason and impeachment. Should the two Houses 
of Congress disagree as to the period of adjourn- 
ment, he may adjourn them to such time as he may 
think proper. He fills offices ad inteinm when the 
Senate are not sitting; but, on their reassembling, 
that body may annul the appointments. 

Under the control of the President are three exe- 
cutive departments, the heads of which constitute 
■what is called the Cabinet. The Secretary of State 
discharges all the duties of the foreign department. 
Through this officer the President expresses his 
opinions in all diplomatic intercourse. The other 
members of the Cabinet, are the Secretaries of the 
Treasury, of War, and of Naval Affairs. 

Of such materials is the American executive com- 
posed, and it is impossible to observe the restrictions 
with which every exercise of its authority has been 
clogged, without at once perceiving that it was from 
this quarter alone, that danger to the Constitution 


was expected to proceed. The idea of a perpe- 
tual Dictator was tlie bugbear which frightened 
American statesmen from their propriety, and ren- 
dered them indifferent to all perils which assumed 
another and less alarming aspect. Even at the 
present day, after forty years experience of their 
Constitution, there are many individuals, otherwise 
distinguished for talent and good sense, Avhose ima- 
gination is still haunted by " chimeras dire" of mi- 
litary tyranny, organised by a quadrennial President 
with a salary of five thousand a-year, an army of 
six thousand men, and without independent and 
unshackled patronage of any sort ! One might be 
content to smile at such nonsense if it carried with 
it no serious consequences ; but when we see the des- 
tinies of a great nation materially affected by it, we 
cannot but lament the extent and influence of the 
delusion. In truth, the manifest and pervading de- 
fect of the American government is the very want of 
that independent energy which her statesmen regard 
with so much futile apprehension. The President is a 
kind of King Log, whom it has been thought pru- 
dent to deprive of members altogether, in order to 


prevent the possibility of his doing mischief. It 
might have been very judicious, no doubt, to extract 
the teeth and pare the claws of so ferocious an ani- 
mal, but certainly not to carry the mutilation so far 
as to destroy the whole bodily functions, if these 
could be rendered useful to the community. 

It is to be lamented that a government of greater 
vigour and efficiency was not originally adopted, 
since the very newness of political institutions is of 
itself a source of weakness. It is only by slow de- 
grees that the intellect and habits of a people become 
accommodated to the operation of a government, 
that their prejudices are enlisted in its favour, and 
a sort of prescriptive respect is obtained which adds 
materially to the benefit it is capable of conferring. 
Until the American institutions should have gained 
this vantage-ground, it was above all things desirable, 
that they should be established on broad and perma- 
nent principles, with enough of independent energy 
to resist the inroads of mere wanton innovation. 
Had the federal government been so framed as to 
rest for support, not on the precarious favour of the 
multitude, but on the deliberate intelligence of the 


property and talent of the country, there could have 
been no assignable limit to the prosperity and intel- 
lectual advancement of this fortunate people. At 
present it only contrives to drag on a feeble exist- 
ence, by adapting its whole policy to the prejudices 
and passions of the most ignorant part of the com- 
munity, which it is the bounden duty of every 
government to restrain and regulate. 

Since we have seen that both the legislative bodies 
are absolutely and necessarily subservient to the 
popular feeling, it might have been expected, at least, 
that the highest executive office of the Republic 
would have been rendered inaccessible to such in- 
fluence. It was natural to imagine that the Presi- 
dent of the United States would be placed above 
temptation of every sort, and be assailed by no in- 
ducement to swerve from the policy which he might 
consider best calculated to promote the interests of 
his country. 

Such a presumption, however, would be entirely 
unwarranted. The President is elected for a period 
of four years, but the custom has generally been to 
re-elect him for a second term of equal duration. 


From the time of his first inauguration, therefore, 
the policy of every President is naturally directed to 
secure this re-election. He takes especial care that 
the opinions expressed in every State document 
bearing his sanction, shall be in accordance with the 
passions or prejudices of the numerical majority of 
the people. Being without the means of leading 
opinion, he is content to follow it. He stands in cir- 
cumstances too precarious to admit of his boldly 
adopting measures of enlarged and liberal policy, or 
attempting to stem the tide of ignorance and preju- 
dice. In short, during his first period of ofiice at 
least, the American President is any thing but in- 
dependent, and when he has succeeded in extending 
the duration of his power, he stands so committed, 
so trammelled by pledges of all sorts, so identified 
with particular opinions, and some particular policy, 
that it is impossible to retrace his steps without loss 
both of consistency and character. 

The appointment of the great officers of State rests 
with tbe President, subject to the approval of the 
Senate ; and since he bears the whole responsibility 
of the Cabinet, it seems only fair that he should pos- 


sess tlie privilege of selecting the individuals of whom 
it shall be composed. But even here, independently 
of the check of the Senate, his choice is not practi- 
cally free, nor can he always select the men best 
qualified for the duties to be performed. With a 
view to his own re-election, the greater and more 
influential States must be conciliated by the advance- 
ment of one of their citizens to a seat in the Cabinet. 
If the Secretary of State be a native of New York, 
a citizen of Pennsylvania will probably be appointed 
to the Treasury, so that the very construction of the 
Cabinet is materially influenced by the dependence 
of the President, and the consequent necessity he 
feels of truckling to local and sectional interests, in- 
stead of following the upright and unbending policy, 
which his own principles and judgment would pro- 
bably have dictated. 

All this is bad, but laying it entirely out of \iew, 
the mere shortness of the period during which any 
President or any Cabinet can hope to continue in 
office, appears a circumstance directly injurious to 
the national interests. It prevents the adoption of 
any permanent and far-sighted policy, tending pro- 


gressively to augment the public wealth and pros- 
perity. One man will not plant, that another may 
reap the harvest of his labours; he will not patiently 
lay the foundation of a structure, the plan of which 
is continually liable to be changed by his successors, 
and on whom, if completed, the whole honours must 
ultimately devolve. In short, it is an inherent and 
monstrous evil, that American statesmen must legis- 
late for the prese7it, not for i\\Q future ; that they are 
forced, by the necessity of their situation, to follow 
the policy most in accordance with the immediate 
prejudices of the people, rather than that which is 
calculated to promote the highest and best interests 
of the community. Immediate and temporary ex- 
pediency is, and must be, the moving and efficient 
impulse of American legislation. The political in- 
stitutions of the United States are consistent neither 
with stability of purpose in the legislative, nor vi- 
gour in the executive departments. Let us look 
where we will, all is feeble and vacillating. There 
is no confidence reposed in public men ; no appeal 
to the higher and more generous motives which in- 
fluence conduct ; no scope for the display of lofty 


and independent character ; no principle from the 
operation of which Ave can rationally expect any 
higher developement of the national mind. 

The exclusion of the ministers from even a deli- 
berative voice in either branch of the legislature, is 
another curious feature in the American constitu- 
tion. It proceeds, no doubt, from that extreme jea- 
lousy of the executive to which I have alluded, and 
is necessarily productive of much delay and incon- 
venience. No communication can take place between 
the legislative bodies and the heads of departments 
otherwise than by writing, and the consequence is, 
that long and inconclusive debates are constantly 
taking place, which a little information from an 
official functionary might have prevented. Under 
the present arrangement, a minister of state never 
appears at all in the eyes of the public. He has to 
brave no enemy, and repel no attack. He can be 
cited before no tribunal, and cannot be called upon 
to stand forth and vindicate his conduct in the face 
of his country. He remains securely sheltered un- 
der the cloak of the President, on whose shoulders 
rests the whole political responsibility of the cabinet. 



It is somewhat strange that the American consti- 
tution, which evidently presumes that every man in 
office is a scoundrel, should have removed, in this 
instance, one of the strongest and most efficient se- 
curities for puhlic virtue. In England, for one half 
the year at least, ministers are brought into imme- 
diate contact with their political opponents. They 
are compelled to give public explanations of their 
conduct. They are kept in continual remembrance 
of their official responsibility. They are subjected 
to a test, which it requires not only upright policy, 
but high talents, to encounter successfully. A Bri- 
tish minister cannot skulk in Downing Street, when 
the Commons of England are discussing the wisdom 
of his measures, or the purity of his motives. He 
stands forward in the eye of the world; he challenges 
enquiry ; he meets his accusers face to face ; he an- 
s'vers publicly a public accusation, and according 
to the verdict given he stands or falls. 

No man can believe, I should imagine, that such 
habitual and inexorable scrutiny, anticipated by 
every public officer, is not productive of the most 
beneficial consequences. But from any thing like 


this the high functionaries in the United States are 
scrupulously protected. The oracles of an American 
minister are issued only from the shrine of his hu- 
reau. He is too delicate a flower for the rough 
handling of a puhlic assemhly, and of course may 
disregard attack, where the constitution has so wisely 
precluded the possibility of defence. 

It is no answer to all this to say, that every pub- 
lic officer in the United States is liable to impeach- 
ment, in case of individual malversation in office. 
No doubt he is so ; but violation of trust in a mi- 
nister of state, so flagrant as to warrant impeach- 
ment, is an ofl'ence of rare occurrence, and one for 
which the disgrace of public exposure is generally a 
sufficient punishment. What is chiefly to be guard- 
ed against are the jobs, the trickeries, the petty im- 
purities of office, which the necessity of braving 
personal examination in a public assembly would 
probably prevent. The Americans, therefore, in 
excluding their executive officers from all place 
in their representative bodies, have gratuitously 
discarded a powerful and efficient security for the 
honest and upright administration of their affairs. 


The knowledge tliat every political measure will be 
subjected to a rigid and unsparing scrutiny, and 

•must be defended to tbe satisfaction of honourable 
men in open discussion, is perhaps the most powerful 
safeguard devised by human ingenuity to secure 
the integrity of public men. 

When we look, however, somewhat more minute - 

•ly into the details of this republican government, it 

»is soon perceived that the members of the cabinet 
are, in truth, nothing better than superintending 
clerks in the departments over which they nominally 

•preside. At the commencement of every Congress, 
the practice is to appoint standing committees, who, 
in fact, manage the whole business of the executive 
departments. The process is as follows : — The 

•president, in his message, invites the attention of 
Congress to such subjects as may appear of national 
importance. Permanent committees are appointed 
by both Houses, and to these the consideration of the 

■^'arious interests of the country is referred. Thus, 

-whatever relates to finance falls within the depart- 
ment of the " committee of ways and means," while 

-that on foreign affairs assumes cognizance of every 


thing connected witli the external relations of the 
government. These committees have separate apart- 
ments, in which the real business of the country is 
carried on, and from which the heads of the execu- 
tive departments are rigidly excluded. The whole 
power of the government is thus absolutely and 
literally absorbed by the people, for no bill connected 
with any branch of public affairs could be brought 
into Congress with the smallest prospect of success, 
which had not previously received the initiative 
approbation of these committees. 

It should be remembered that the power thus 
assumed by the people is wholly unknown to the 
Constitution. It is one of those important, but silent 
encroachments which are progressively affecting the 
forms, as they have long done the spirit of the govern- 
ment. It is still, however, the fashion to say, if not 
to believe, that the Constitution remains unchanged, 
and it is scarcely worth while to argue the point, 
with men who are evidently deficient either in since- 
rity or penetration. But if any man of sense and 
sagacity, who can be considered unbiassed by the 
prejudices of habit and education, will declare, after 


a deliberate examination of the working of this 
government, that its whole important functions are 
not practically engrossed by the House of Repre- 
sentatives, I shall be ready to give up those opinions 
which I now offer to the world, as embodying the 
result of my own observations in the United States. 




Though the soil of the United States may be 
considered ungenial for the growth of philosophy 
and literature, it would certainly appear to be very 
happily adapted for the cultivation of eloquence. It 
is one effect of free institutions, that in multiplying 
the depositories of political power, they render the 
faculty of persuasion a necessary element on which 
successful ambition must rest for support. Under 
a despotic government there is " ample room and 
verge enough" for no eloquence but that of the 
pulpit. There exists little community of sentiment 
between the governors and the governed, and habits 
of passive obedience are incompatible with that 
buoyancy of thought and feeling with which true 


eloquence is inseparably connected. But in a repub- 
lic the whole interests of man, individually and col- 
lectively, become matter of unrestricted discussion, 
and afford vantage-ground for the orator. Earth, 
air, ocean, and the living myriads that inhabit them, 
and that wider world of thought and consciousness 
existing in the human breast, are all comprised 
within the limits of his dominion, and obey the im- 
pulse of his genius. 

In America the power of persuasion constitutes 
the only lever of political advancement. In Eng- 
land, though the field for the exercise of this talent 
be very great, yet rank, wealth, family connexions, 
hereditary claims, and a thousand other influences 
must be taken into account, in reckoning the ordi- 
nary elements of successful ambition. How powerful 
— whether for good or evil I shall not enquire — 
many of these are, is well known, but none of them 
exist in the United States. There, rank is unknown • 
there are no great accumulations of property ; and 
competition for the higher oflices of the common- 
wealth, has long been rather the struggle of men, or 
more properly, perhaps, of sectional interests, than of 


principles. The candidates, however, for every 
situation of emolument, are, beyond all example, in 
this country, numerous ; and, as each individual is 
naturally anxious to establish some trifling point of 
superiority in reference to his opponents, the conse- 
quence is, that political opinion is dissected with a 
degree of nicety which the most accomplished meta- 
physician would find it difficult to surpass. But all 
enter the contest armed with the same weapons, 
displaying the same banner, appealing to the same 
umpire, and contending for the same reward. 
Patronage of every kind is virtually in the hands of 
the people. They are the fountain of fame and of 
honour, the ultimate tribunal by which all appeals 
must be heard and decided. 

In the United States, oral eloquence, and the news- 
paper press, constitute the only instruments really 
available in acquiring influence over this many- 
headed and irresponsible arbiter of merit and mea- 
sures. There exists, indeed, no other channel through 
which there is any possibility of attaining political 
distinction. The influence and circulation of news- 
papers is great beyond any thing ever known in 



Europe. In truth, nine- tenths of the population 
read nothing else, and are, consequently, mentally 
inaccessible by any other avenue. Every village, 
nay, almost every hamlet, has its press, which issues 
secondhand news, and serves as an arena in which the 
political gladiators of the neighbourhood may exer- 
cise their powers of argument and abuse. The con- 
ductors of these journals are generally shrewd but 
uneducated men, extravagant in praise or censure, 
clear in their judgment of every thing connected 
with their own interests, and exceedingly indifferent 
to all matters which have no discernible relation to 
their own pockets or privileges. 

The power exercised by this class of writers over 
the public mind is very great. Books circulate with 
difficulty in a thinly-peopled country, and are not 
objects on which the solitary denizen of the forest 
would be likely to expend any portion of the produce 
of his labour. But newspapers penetrate to every 
crevice of the Union. There is no settlement so re- 
mote as to be cut off from this channel of intercourse 
with their fellov»-mcn. It is thus ihat the clamour 
of the busy world is heard even in the wilderness, 


and the most remote invader of distant wilds is kept 
alive in his solitude to the common ties of brother- 
hood and country. 

Newspapers have a character and influence, dis- 
tinct from that of all other literature. They are 
emphatically jf?re5ew^ existences; the links between 
the past and the future. Forming part, as it were, 
of the very business of life, they are never alien to 
the minds of those who participate in its interests. 
They are read ; laid aside ; forgotten at night, to be 
again remembered in the morning. In truth, it is 
this incessant recreation which constitutes their 
power. The opinions of men are yielded willingly 
to their influence. It is constant dropping, as tlie 
old proverb hath it, which wears the stone. 

But the newspaper press is perhaps better adapted 
for the advocation and difl'usion of the principles of 
a party, than for the attainment of the immediate 
objects of individual ambition. The influence of a 
public journal can scarcely be considered a thing 
personal to its conductor. It circulates in a thousand 
places where his name and existence are entirely 
unknown. Indeed, to the great mass of his readers 


he is not a man of thews and sinews, broad cloth and 
corduroys, eating, drinking, spitting, and tobacco- 
chewing like themselves, but a sort of airy and in- 
visible being, " a voice, a mystery," which it requires 
an effort of abstraction to impersonate. 

In America, therefore, the influence of the pen, 
though admitting of vast extension, is only secondary, 
as an instrument of political ambition, to that of the 
tongue. A writer may enforce the peculiar tenets 
of his party with the utmost skill, and support them 
with great logical acuteness, and yet be very scantily 
endowed with the powers of a debater. Such powers, 
however, are indispensable, or, at least, in the estima- 
tion of the electors, are practically found to out- 
weigh every other accomplishment. A convin- 
cing proof of this almost uniform preference may be 
found in the fact, that of the whole federal legislature 
nineteen-twentieths are lawyers, men professionally 
accustomed to public speaking. The merchants — 
the great capitalists of New York, Boston, and Phi- 
ladelphia, and the other Atlantic cities, constituting, 
I fear not to say, the most enlightened body of citi- 
zens in the Union — are almost as effectually exclu-^ 


ded from political power, by deficiency in oratorical 
accomplishment, as tliey could be by express legal 

The acquisition of a faculty so important, there- 
fore, is necessarily one of the primary objects of 
Transatlantic education. Teachers of elocution, and 
of all the petty trickeries of delivery, to which inferior 
men find it necessary to resort, abound everywhere. 
An American boy, from the very first year of his 
going to school, is accustomed to spout. At college 
he makes public orations. On emerging into life he 
frequents debating societies, numerous everywhere, 
and his qualifications thus become known to the 
electors, whose suffrages on some future occasion he 
is anxious to obtain. He then commences practice 
as a lawyer, and in that capacity reaps some advan- 
tage from his previous notoriety. The road to poli- 
tical distinction then opens. He is probably elected 
a member of the legislature of his native State. 
Should he acquit himself in his new capacity with 
credit, in a few years he becomes a delegate to Con- 
gress, and enters on a higher sphere of legislative 
duty. At no period of his progress, however, is his 


tenure of the favour of his constituents secure. 
There is a sectional jealousy prevalent throughout 
the United States; a restless anxiety in the inhabi- 
tants of each district, that their local, and perhaps 
exclusive interests, however insignificant, should be 
resolutely obtruded on the attention of the legislature. 
They consider also that their own consequence is 
intimately affected by the figure made by their repre- 
sentative in Congress, and would feel it to be a 
dereliction, on his part, of their just claims, were he 
to suffer any interesting question to pass without en- 
grossing some portion of the attention of the Assembly. 
Verily, the yoke of such constituents is not easy, 
nor is their burden light. The public prints must 
bear frequent record of the loquacity of their repre- 
sentative, or they are not satisfied. The consequence 
is, that in the American Congress there is more of 
what may be called speaking against time^ than in any 
other deliberative assembly ever known. Each mem- 
ber is {iware that he must either assume a certain 
prominence, or give up all hope of future re-election, 
and it is needless to say which alternative is usually 
preferred. A universal tolerance of long speeches 


is thus generated, and no attempt is ever made to 
restrict the range of argument or declamation, within 
the limits even of remote connexion with the subject 
of debate. One continually reads in the public 
papers such announcements as the following: — 

*' In the House of Representatives, yesterday, Mr 
Tompkins occupied the whole day with the continu- 
ation of his brilliant speech on the Indian question, 
and is in possession of the floor to-morrow. He is 
expected to conclude on Friday; but, from the press 
of other business, it will probably be Tuesday next 
before Mr Jefferson X. Bagg will commence his 
reply, which is expected to occupy the whole remain- 
der of the week.'* 

In fact, an oration of eighteen or twenty hours is 
no uncommon occurrence in the American Congress. 
After this vast expenditure of breath, the next step 
of the orator is to circulate his speech in the form 
of a closely- printed pamphlet of some hundred and 
fifty pages. A plentiful supply of copies is des- 
patched for the use of his constituents, who swallow 
the bait ; and at the conclusion of the session, the 
member returns to his native town, where he is 


lauded, feasted, and toasted, and — what he values, 
I doubt notj still more — re-elected. 

The Americans enjoy the reputation in Europe of 
being par excellence a 'sensible people. 'I fear their 
character in this respect must suffer some deprecia- 
tion in the opinion of those who have enjoyed the 
advantage of observing the proceedings of their 
legislative assemblies. The mode in which the dis- 
cussion of public business is carried on in Congress, 
certainly struck me as being not only unstatcsman- 
like, but in flagrant \iolation of the plainest dic- 
tates* of common sense. The style of speaking is 
loose, rambling, and inconclusive ; and adherence to 
the real subject of discussion evidently forms no 
part, either of the intention of the orator, or the 
expectation of his audience. A large proportion of 
the speakers seem to take part in a debate with no 
other view than that of individual display, and it 
sometimes happens that the topic immediately press- 
ing on the attention of the assembly, by some strange 
perversity, is almost the only one on which nothing 
is said. 

It is evident that such a style of discussion — if 


discussion it can^be called — could only become pre- 
valent in an assembly with abundance of leisure for 
the enactment of these oratorical interludes. In 
a body like the British Parliament, compelled by the 
pressure of business to be economical of time, it 
could not possibly be tolerated. The clamorous in- 
terests of a great nation are matters too serious to 
be trifled with, and time is felt to be too valuable^ 
for expenditure on speeches better fitted for a spout- 
ing club, than a grave deliberative assembly. 

The truth, I believe, is, that the American Congress 
have really very little to do. All the multiplied 
details of local and municipal legislation fall within 
the province of the State governments, and the 
regulation of commerce and foreign intercourse prac- 
tically includes all the important questions which 
they are called on to decide. Nor are the members 
generally very anxious so to abbreviate the proceed- 
ings of Congress, as to ensure a speedy return to 
their provinces. They are well paid for every hour 
lavished on the public business; and being once at 
Washington, and enjoying the pleasures of its so- 
ciety, few are probably solicitous for the termination 

82 PARTY. 

of functions which combine the advantage of real 
emolument, with the opportunities of acquiring dis- 
tinction in the eyes of tlieir constituents. The farce, 
tlierefore, by common consent, continues to be played 
on. Speeches apparently interminable are tolerated, 
though not listened to; and every manoeuvre by 
which the discharge of public business can be pro- 
tracted is resorted to, with the most perfect success. 
Of course I state this merely as the readiest hypo- 
thesis by which the facts already mentioned can be 
explained ; but, in truth, there are many other causes 
at v/ork. Though in either House there is no defi- 
ciency of party spirit, and political hostilities are 
waged with great vigour, yet both in attack and 
defence there is evidently an entire want both of 
discipline and organization. There is no concert, no 
division of duties, no compromise of opinion ; but the 
movements of party are executed without regularity 
or premeditation. Thus, instead of the systematic 
and combined attack of an organized body, delibe- 
rately concerted on principles which will unite the 
greatest number of auxiliaries, government have 
in general to sustain only the assaults of single and 


desultory combatants, who mix up so much of indi- 
vidual peculiarity of opinion, with what is common 
to their party, that any general system of effective 
co-operation is impossible. It is evident enough, in 
whatever business the House may be engaged, that 
each individual acts for himself, and is eager to make 
or to discover some opportunity of lavishing all his 
crudities of thought or fancy on his brother legis- 

The consequence of all this is, that no one can 
guess, with any approach to probability, the course of 
discussion on any given subject. A speech, an argu- 
ment, an insinuation, an allusion, is at any time 
sufficient to turn the whole current of debate into 
some new and unforeseen channel ; and I have often 
found it absolutely impossible to gather from the 
course of argument, even the nature of the question 
on which the House were divided in opinion. In 
England, it is at least pretty certain that a motion 
on criminal law will not lead to a discussion on 
foreign policy, including the improvement of turn- 
pike roads, the expenses of Plymouth breakwater, 
the reneual of the East India Company's charter, 


and the prospects of Swan River settlement. But in 
America, a debate in Congress is a sort of steeple- 
chase, in which no one knows any thing of the 
country to be crossed, and it often happens that the 
object of pursuit is altogether lost sight of by the 
whole party. 

One effect — I do not know that it is a bad one — 
of this excursive style of discussion is, that every 
member finds it necessary to be on the qui vive. 
Something may at any moment be said, to which it 
is necessary that the representative for a particular 
state or district should immediately reply. Whatever 
maybe the subject of debate, no member — especially 
in the Lower House — can be absent a single lour 
with safety, when an orator of the hostile party, 
according to American phrase, is " in possession of 
the floor." I have often, in coming to the Capitol, 
enquired at members of the House of Representatives 
whether it was probable that any interesting dis- 
cussion would take place in the course of the day. 
The answer uniformly was, that it was impossible 
to foresee ; for though the topic then occupying the 
attention of the House might be of the most common- 


place kind, tlie debate on it was liable at any moment 
to diverge, and bring on the most unexpected results. 
But on this matter, as I have already perhaps dealt 
too much in " wise saws," I shall take the liberty of 
adducing a few modern instances. 

One of the first debates at which I was present, 
related to a pecuniary claim of the late President 
Monroe on the United States, amounting, if I re- 
member rightly, to sixty thousand dollars This 
claim had long been urged, and been repeatedly re- 
ferred to committees of the House of Representatives, 
who, after a careful investigation of the subject, had 
uniformly reported in favour of its justice. 

The question at length came on for discussion, 
'' Is the debt claimed by Mr Monroe from the United 
States a just debt, or not ?'* Nothing could possibly 
be more simple. Here was a plain matter of debtor 
and creditor ; a problem of figures, the solution of 
which must rest on a patient examination of ac- 
counts, and charges, and balances. It was a question 
after the heart of Joseph Hume,— a bone, of which 
that most useful legislator understands so well how 
to get at the marrow. 


VYell, how was tliis dry question treated in the 
House of Representatives ? Why, as follows. Little 
or nothing was said as to the intrinsic justice or 
validity of the claim. Committees of the House had 
repeatedly reported in its favour, and I heard no 
attempt, hy fact or inference, to prove the fallacy of 
their decision. But a great deal was said about the 
political character of Mr Monroe some dozen years 
before, and a great deal about Virginia, and its Pre- 
sidents and its members, and its attempts to govern 
the Union, an its selfish policy. A vehement dis- 
cussion took place as to whether Mr Monroe or 
Chancellor Livingstone had been the efficient agent 
in procuring the cession of Louisiana. Members 
waxed warm in attack and recrimination, and a 
fiery gentleman from Virginia was repeatedly called 
to order by the Speaker. One member declared, 
that, disapproving toto coelo of the former policy of Mr 
Monroe's Cabinet, he should certainly now oppose 
his demand for payment of a debt, the justice < f 
which was not attempted to be disproved. Another 
thought Mr Monroe would be very well off if he got 
half of what he claimed, and moved an amendment 


to that effect, which being considered a kind of com- 
promise, I believe, was at length carried, after re- 
peated adjournments and much clamorous debate. 

Another instance of discussion somewhat similar 
struck me very forcibly, and will afford, I imagine, 
sufficient illustration of the mode of doing business 
in the House of Representatives. It took place on 
a claim put forward by the widow of Commodore 
Decatur, for prize money due to him and his ship's 
crew for something done in the Mediterranean. 
The particulars I forget, but they are of no conse- 
quence. The Commodore having no family, had 
bequeathed the whole of his property, real and per- 
sonal, to his wife, whom circumstances had since 
reduced to poverty. When I entered, the debate had 
already commenced, and the House seemed almost 
unanimous in the admission of the claim. This was 
dull enough, and as the subject itself bad little to 
engage the attention of a stranger, I determined to 
try whether any thing of more interest was going 
forward in the Senate. While I was conversing with 
a member of the House, however, some symptoms of 
difference of opinion began to manifest themselves. 


One member proposed, that as the money was to be 
granted principally with a view to benefit the widow of 
Commodore Decatur, the ordinary rules of prize divi- 
sion should not be adhered to, and that a larger share 
than usual should be allotted to the commander of the 
armament. This proposition, however, was evidently 
adverse to the wishes of the majority, and the amend- 
ment met with little support. This matter being 
settled, the discussion for some time went on smoothly 
enough, and there seemed every prospect of its reach- 
ing a speedy and amicable termination. 

At length, however, a member rose, and argued 
that the circumstance of the Commodore having be- 
Cjueathed his whole property to his wife, when he 
imagined he had very little property to leavCj afforded 
no ground for the conclusion, that had he known of 
this large addition, it might not have been differently 
applied. He, therefore, expressed his firm determi- 
nation to oppose its exclusive appropriation to the 
widow. The widow, however, w^as not without able 
and zealous advocates to set forth her claims, and 
urge their admission. These pronounced her to be 
one of the most amiable and excellent of her sex, and 


maintained that, as the House had no possible access 
to know how the Commodore would have acted under 
circumstances merely hypothetical, there was no 
course to be pursued but to appropriate the money 
according to the desire actually expressed in his last 
will and testament. 

While the House were, for the nonce, divided into 
widowites and anti-widoioites, the discussion became 
still further embroiled. New matter of debate arose. 
Admitting that Mrs Decatur was entitled to the 
usufruct of the money during her life, was it fitting 
that she should have the power of alienating it at her 
death from the relatives of her husband? This was 
very warmly debated. At length, a gentleman, in 
a very vehement and pathetic speech, set forth the 
attractions, both mental and personal, of two young 
ladies, daughters of a sister of Captain Decatur, 
whose necessities unfortunately were equal to their 
merits. He had the honour, he said, of being their 
neighbour in the country; they were elegant and 
accomplished, and often did his family the honour 
to accept such hospitality as they could offer. He 



should certainly oppose the grant altogether, if these 
young ladies were not to come in for a share. 

This speech had evidently great effect, and the 
party of the young ladies — comprising, of course, all 
the bachelors of the House— was evidently a strong 
one. A grave elderly member, however, took up the 
cudgels on the other side. He informed the House, 
that the brother of Commodore Decatur had been 
his intimate friend, and unfortunately had left a fa- 
mily very scantily provided for. What claims could 
any young ladies, however accomplished, who were 
daughters only of a sister, possess equal to those of 
this brother's children? The latter were evidently 
the proper objects to be benefited by the present 
grant. He should oppose it on any other terms. 

The number of amendments had now become very 
great, and the accumulation of obstacles was increa- 
sing with every speech. I was assured,— and from 
the tenor of the debate, I have no doubt it was so, — 
that a majority was decidedly in favour of the origi- 
nal claim, but minor discrepancies of opinion were 
found to be irreconcilable. Some insisted on the 
widow receiving the whole amount of the grant. 


others that it should go to the brother's family, others 
that the young ladies should be enriched by it, and 
others still were for a general division, while a con- 
siderable party advocated the propriety of voting the 
grant untrammelled by condition of any sort. The 
result was, that, after a most unprofitable waste of 
many hours, no money was granted at all, and the 
matter left for farther debate in another Congress, 
when the farce I have just described will be re-enact- 
ed, no doubt, with all its original spirit. 

During my attendances at the Capitol, I have been 
sometimes amused by observing the process by which 
a question, originally simple, becomes, in the progress 
of discussion, so complicated and mixed up with irre- 
levant matter, and loses so completely all logical 
form, that it might puzzle the most expert dialecti- 
cian to form any judgment on it at all. I have often 
attempted, on entering the House during a debate, to 
discover from the speeches something of the nature 
of the topic which occupied the attention of the 
assembly. In this I was generally unsuccessful, and 
my conjectures were sometimes almost ludicrously 
wide of the mark. Indeed, it was no uncommon 


occurrence for the mass of amendments to become 
so great, that even the members were bewildered, 
and were compelled to apply to the Speaker to explain 
their bearing on eacb other and the original question ; 
and certainly nothing gave me a higher opinion of 
the powers of that gentleman, than the clear and 
skilful manner in which he managed to recall the 
attention to the real point at issue, and prevent the 
House from becoming absolutely stultified by its own 

In looking back to the earlier days of the republic, 
it would be scarcely fair to try the specimens of 
oratory that have come down to us by the stan- 
dard of very rigid criticism. The appropriate elo- 
quence of the time was that of action^ not of words. 
While the struggle for liberty was undecided, the 
men who dwelt in camps, and spoke with swords in 
their hands, had no leisure to think of tropes and 
figures, and their addresses to their countrymen were 
distinguished by a manly earnestness worthy of the 
great cause in which they had embarked, and which 
more than compensated for unavoidable deficiencies 
of taste. 


But with the achieA^ement of the national inde- 
pendence a different state of things arose. Oratory, 
which on great and critical occasions, when mighty- 
interests are at stake, and men give strong utterance 
to irrepressible convictions, is less an art than an 
impulse, became in more peaceful times a mere 
branch of professional accomplishment, which it was 
considered necessary for political aspirants to acquire. 
The succeeding generation of Americans were not 
content as their fathers had been with the simple 
expression of their feelings and opinions, without rhe- 
torical embellishment, or studied artifices of speech. 
They attempted higher flights, but their ambition 
was more remarkable for its daring than its success. 
The recorded specimens of this period of the republic 
indicate a sad deficiency of taste, originality, and 
imaginative power. Starting, like another Adam, 
into sudden political existence, speaking the lan- 
guage, preserving the laws, and dependent on the 
literature of England, America found it more difficult 
to cast off the trammels of mental allegiance, than 
to burst asunder the bonds of physical enthralment. 
Strong arms and brave hearts had proved adequate 


to the one, but a higher intellectual advancement 
than they had yet attained was necessary for the 

Thus it was, that from the very dawn of their 
independence, the Americans became an imitative 
people. Having no examples of native excellence 
to appeal to, they at once adopted the models of 
another nation, without reflecting that these, how- 
ever excellent, might be ill adapted for imitation in 
a state of manners and society altogether different. 
Surrounded by all the elements of originality in the 
w^orld of untried images and associations with which 
they were familiar, they renounced them all, to be- 
come the imitators of a people who to this hour have 
denied them even the praise of skilful imitation. 

The world affords no instance of a people, among 
whom an eloquence, merely imitative, ever was suc- 
cessful. It is indeed quite evident, that eloquence, 
to be effective, must be expressly accommodated, 
not only to the general condition of society, but to 
the habits, intelligence, sympathies, prejudices, and 
peculiarities of the audience. The images which 
appeal most forcibly to the feelings of one people, 


will fail utterly of effect when addressed to anotlier, 
living under a different climate, accustomed to a 
different aspect of external nature, and of habits 
and partialities generated under a different modifica- 
tion of social intercourse. 

The first great objection, therefore, to American 
eloquence, is, that it is not American. When a tra- 
veller visits the United States, and sees the form and 
pressure of society ; a population thinly scattered 
through regions of interminable forest ; appearances 
of nature widely varying from those of European 
countries ; the entire absence of luxury ; the prevail- 
ing plainness of manner and expression; the general 
deficiency of literary acquirement ; the thousand 
visible consequences of democratic institutions ; he 
is naturally led to expect that the eloquence of such 
a people would be marked at least by im^ages and 
associations peculiar to their own circumstances and 
condition. This anticipation would no doubt be 
strengthened by the first aspect of Congress, Ho 
would find in the Capitol of Washington two assem- 
blies of plain farmers and attorneys ; men who exhi- 
bited in their whole deportment an evident aversion 


from the graces and elegancies of polished society ; of 
coarse appetite?, and coarser manners; and betraying 
a practical contempt for all knowledge not palpably 
convertible to the purposes of pecuniary profit. The 
impression might not be pleasing, but he would 
congratulate himself on having at least escaped from 
the dull regions of commonplace, and calculate on 
being spared the penalty of listening to the monoto- 
nous iteration of hackneyed metaphor, and the 
cramhe recocta of British oratory, hashed up for pur- 
poses of public benefit or private vanity, by a 
Washington cuisinier. 

In all this he would be most wretchedly deceived. 
He might patiently sit out speeches of a week's 
duration, without detecting even the vestige of origi- 
nality, either of thought or illustration. But he 
would be dosed ad nauseam with trite quotations 
from Latin authors, apparently extracted for the nonce 
from the schoolbooks of some neighbouring academy 
for young gentlemen. He would hear abundance 
of truisms, both moral and political, emphatically 
asserted and most illogically proved ; he would learn 
the opinions of each successive orator on all matters 


of national policy, foreign and domestic. He would 
be gorged to the very throat with the most extra- 
vagant praises of the American government, and the 
character and intelligence of the people. He would 
listen to the interminable drivellings of an insatiable 
vanity, which, like the sisters of the horseleech, is 
for ever crying, " Give, give." He would follow 
the orator into the seventh heaven of bombast, and 
descend with him into the lowest regions of the 
bathos. Still in all this he would detect nothing 
but a miserably executed parody — a sort of bungling 
plagiarism — an imitation of inapplicable models — a 
mimicry like that of the clown in a pantomime, all 
ridicule and burlesque. In American oratory, in 
short, he will find nothing vernacular but the vul- 
garities, and the entire disregard of those proprieties, 
on the scrupulous observance of which the eflfect 
even of the highest eloquence must necessarily de- 

In Congress, the number of men who have received 
— what even in the United States is called— a clas- 
sical education, is extremely small, and of these the 
proportion who still retain sufficient scholarship to 



find pleasure in allusion to the words of the great 
writers of antiquity, is yet smaller. The great ma- 
jority are utterly and recklessly ignorant of the 
learned languages, and the whole literature embodied 
in them ; and it is evident that, with such an audi- 
ence, any appeal to classical authority is mere waste 
of breath in the one party, and of patience in the 
other. It may appear strange, under such circum- 
stances, but I have no doubt of the fact, that in the 
course of a session, more Latin — such as it is — is 
quoted in the House of Representatives, than in both 
Houses of the British Parliament. Indeed it is ludi- 
crous enough to observe the solicitude of men, evi- 
dently illiterate, to trick out their speeches with such 
hackneyed extracts from classical authors, as they 
may have picked up in the course of a superficial 
reading. Thus, if a member be attacked, he will 
probably assure the House, not in plain English, that 
tlie charge of his opponent is weak, and without 
foundation, but in Latin, that it is " telum imhelle 
et sine ictuJ'* Should he find occasion to profess phi- 
lanthropy, the chances are that the words of Terence, 
^^ ilomo sum, humani nihil " he* will be mispronounced 


in a pathetic accent, with the right hand pressed 
gracefully on the hreast. In short, members were 
always ready with some petty scrap of threadbare 
trumpery, which, like the Cosmogonist in the Vicar 
of Wakefield, they kept cut and dry for the frequent 
occasions of oratorical emergency. 

During my stay in Washington, I had the good 
fortune to be present at one debate in the House of 
Representatives which excited much public interest. 
It related to the appointment of Mr Randolph as 
Minister to the Court of Russia. The circumstances 
were as follow. Early in 1830, it was judged right 
by the Cabinet of Washington to have a resident mi- 
nister at the Court of Russia. The individual selected 
for this high appointment was Mr John Randolph, 
a gentleman of much eccentricity, high talents, and 
confessedly gifted with extraordinary powers as a 
debater. Though this gentleman has never held any 
political office, yet he has uniformly engrossed a very 
large share of the public attention, and has had the 
art or the misfortune in his own country to attract 
an unexampled portion of sincere admiration and 
vehement dislike. No man in America ever brought 


to debate an equal power of biting sarcasm, and few 
men perhaps, if so gifted, would have used it so un- 
sparingly. With the qualities of a statesman, Mr 
Randolph is not considered by his countrymen to be 
largely endowed. His true element is opposition. 
He has attacked every successive administration for 
the last thirty years, with what vigour and effect 
those who have writhed under the torture of his 
withering invectives can alone adequately describe. 
There is indeed something almost fearfully ingenious 
in his employment of epithets, which cut, as it were, 
to the very core, the objects of his wrath. In habit 
and feeling, no man can be more aristocratic than 
Mr Randolph, yet he has always been the stanch 
advocate of democratic principles. In one respect, 
he is the very converse of Jefferson. He detests 
French literature and French society, praises Eng- 
land and her government perhaps more than they 
deserve, and among his strange and multifarious 
acquirements must be included an accurate acquaint- 
ance with the genealogies of the whole British Peer- 
age ! 

When the situation of Minister to the Court of St 


Petersburg was oiFered to tliis remarkable indivi- 
dual, he candidly informed the President tbat the 
state of his health was such, as to render him inca- 
pable of braving the severities of a Russian climate, 
and that, unless permitted to pass the winter months 
in London or Paris, he should feel compelled to de- 
cline the appointment. The permission was granted, 
and Mr Randolph departed on his mission. He left, 
however, many enemies behind him, men who had 
suffered under the lash of his eloquence, and were 
naturally anxious to seize every opportunity of re- 
torting punishment on so formidable an opponent. 

A few days before my arrival in Washington, the 
subject of this appointment had been fairly brought 
into debate, and a Mr Tristram Burgess, from Rhode 
Island, had made a vehement attack, both on Mr 
Randolph, and on the Government. This called up 
Mr Cambreleng, one of the members for New York, 
a gentleman of great talent, and decidedly the first 
political economist of the Union, who entered warmly 
on the defence of Ministers. There is no doubt that 
Mr Cambreleng, under the influence of temporary 
excitement, in some degree, exceeded the legitimate 


limits of legislative discussion. Mr Tristram Burgess 
happened to be an elderly gentleman, with a hooked 
nose, a head bald on the summit, but the sides of 
which displayed hair somewhat blanched by time. 
In allusion to these personal peculiarities, Mr Cam- 
breleng certainly said something about the fires of 
Etna glowing beneath the snows of Caucasus, and 
also, rather unpleasantly, compared his opponent to 
a bald-headed vulture. There can be no doubt of 
the bad taste of all this; and I know Mr Cambreleng 
well enough to entertain the ^perfect conviction, that 
had any oppo^ tunity of subsequent explanation been 
afforded him, he would have been most ready to dis- 
claim any hasty expression that could be considered 
personally offensive to his opponent. It appeared, 
however, that explanation was neither demanded nor 
expected. The House adjourned, and nearly three 
weeks elapsed before the subject again came on for 

I had no sooner reached Washington than I learned 
that great expectations were excited by the antici- 
pated reply of Mr Burgess, who was one of the 
crack orators of the House. Poor Mr Cambreleng 


was evidently regarded as a doomed man ; his fate 
was sealed ; he could have no chance in a. war of 
words with an intellectual giant like Mr Tristram 
Burgess ! I received congratulations on all hands 
on my good fortune in enjoying at least one oppor- 
tunity of hearing a first-rate specimen of American 
eloquence. In short, the cry was still " he comes ;" 
add when, on the appointed day, he did come, it was 
bearing such a mass of written papers, as gave pro- 
mise of a prepared and voluminous speech. 

The promise was not belied. Mr Burgess's talent 
for diffusion was of the first order, and the speech 
was Shandean. Being, however, what is vulgarly 
called a slow coach, he did not get over the ground 
so rapidly as might haVe been desireds' considering the 
vast distance he was determined to travel. I know. 
at least that he was three days on the road, and the 
point to which he at last conducted his passengers 
appeared to my vision very similar to that from 
which he started. 

Though my curiosity had been a good deal excited, 
the first three sentences were enoujjh to calm it. 
Mr Burgess was evidently a man of some cl evernegs 


with a tolerable commancl of words, and a good deal 
of worldly sagacity. He occasionally made a good 
hit, and once or twice showed considerable adroitness 
in parrying attack ; but he was utterly wanting in 
taste and imagination; there were no felicities 
either of thought or expression ; nor could I detect a 
trace of any single quality which eould be ranked 
among the higher gifts of an orator. A three days' 
speech from such a man was certainly a very serious 
affair ; and tliough, as a matter of duty, on so great 
an occasion, I did bring myself to sit out the whole 
of it, it was done with the resolute determination to 
endure no second penance of a similar description. 

Were it possible to give any tolerable report of a 
speech, which, of itself, would fill a volume, I would 
willingly appeal to it as exemplifying the justice of 
every blunder, both of taste and judgment, which 
I have attributed to American eloquence. There 
were scraps of Latin and of Shakspeare ; there were 
words without meaning, and meanings not worth 
the trouble of embodying in words ; there were bad 
jokes, and bad logic, and arguments without logic of 
any kind ; there was abundance of exotic graces, and 


home-bred vulgarities, — of elaborate illustration of 
acknowledged truths, — of vehement invective and 
prosy declamation, — of conclusions without premises, 
and premises that led to no conclusion ; and yet this 
very speech was the subject of an eight days' wonder 
to the whole Union ! The amount of praise bestowed 
on it in the public journals, would have been con- 
demned as hyperbolical if applied to an oration of 
Demosthenes. Mr Burgess, at the termination of 
the session, was feted at New York ; and Rhode 
Island exulted in the verbal prowess of the most 
gifted of her sons ! 

There can be no doubt, therefore, that the speech 
of Mr Burgess was an excellent speech of the kind; 
and in order to give the reader som« naore definite 
notion of what that kind was, I shall enter on a few 
details. Be it known, then, that a large portion of 
the first day's oration related to the personal allu- 
sions of Mr Cambreleng, who, as the reader is aware, 
had said something about the snows of Caucasus, 
and bald-headed vultures. Such an affair in the 
British Parliament would probably have been settled 
at the moment by the good feeling of the House. If 


not, a sbort and pithy retort was certainly allowable, 
and good sense would Lave prevented more. 

But the House of Representatives and Mr Burgess 
manage these affairs differently. The orator com- 
menced upon grey hair, and logically drew the con- 
clusion, that as such discolouration was the natural 
consequence of advanced years, any disrespectful 
allusion to the effect, implied contempt for the 
cause. Now, among every people in the world, 
Mahometan or Christian, civilized or barbarous, 
old age was treated with reverence. Even on the 
authority of Scripture we are entitled to assert, that 
the grey head should be regarded as a crown of 
honour. All men must become old, unless they die 
young; and every member of this House must reckon 
on submitting to the common fate of humanity, &c. 
&c. &c., and so on for about a quarter- of-an-hour. 

Having said all that human ingenuity could 
devise about grey hair, next came bald heads ; and 
here the orator, with laudable candour, proceeded to 
admit that baldness might in one sense be considered 
a defect. Nature had apparently intended that the 
human cranium should be covered with hair, and 



there was no denying that the integument was both 
useful and ornamental. I am not sure whether, at 
this stage of the argument, Mr Burgess took advan- 
tage of the opportunity of impressing the House 
with a due sense of the virtues of bear's grease and 
macassar oil. I certainly remember anticipating an 
episode on nightcaps and Welsh wigs, but on these 
the orator was unaccountably silent. He duly in- 
formed the House, however, that many of the greatest 
heroes and philosophers could boast little covering 
on their upper region. Aristotle was bald, and so 
was Julius Cffisar, &c. &c. &c. 

It was not till the subject of baldness had become 
as stale and flat, as it certainly was unprofitable, 
that the audience were introduced to the vulture, 
who was kept so long hovering over the head of Mr 
Burgess's opponent, that one only felt anxious that 
he should make his pounce and have done with it- 
Altogether, to give the vulture— like the devil— his 
due, he was a very quiet bird, and more formidable 
from the offensive nature of his droppings, than any 
danger to be apprehended from his beak or claws. 
In truth, he did seem to be somewhat scurvily treated 


by the orator, wlio, after keeping him fluttering 
about the hall for some three hours, at last rather 
unceremoniously disclaimed all connexion with him, 
and announced that he — Mr Burgess— was " an 
eagle soaring in his pride of place, and, therefore, 
not by a moping owl, to be hawked at, and killed ! " 
This was too much for gravity, but luckily the day's 
oration had reached its termination, and the House 
broke up in a state of greater exhilaration, than 
could reasonably have been anticipated from the 
nature and extent of the infliction. 

Having dealt, perhaps somewhat too largely, in 
censure, it is only fair that I should now advert to a 
few items which are entitled to a place on the per 
contra side of the account. In Congress, there is cer- 
tainly no deficiency of talent, nor of that homely and 
practical sagacity, which, without approaching the 
dignity of philosophy, is perhaps even a safer guide 
in the administration of a government like that of 
the United States. American legislators talk nonsen- 
sically, but they act prudently ; and their character 
is the very reverse of that attributed by Rochester to 
the second Charles — 


" Who never said a foolish thing, 
And never did a wise one." 

It is not rigbt that these men should be judged 
exclusively by their words ; their actions also must 
be taken into account in forming a fair estimate of 
their character, moral and political. Were the con- 
dition of society to continue unchanged, they might 
commit blunders without end, but there would be 
no danger that the interests of the community would 
suffer from pertinacious adherence to them. In this 
country, measures are judged less by their specula- 
tive tendencies, and more remote consequences, than 
by their direct and immediate results on the pockets 
or privileges of the people. In Congress there is 
much clearness of vision, but little enlargement 
of view; considerable perspicacity in discerning 
effects, but none of that higher faculty which con- 
nects them with their causes, and traces the chain of 
consequences beyond the range of actual experience. 
In short, it strikes me that American legislators are 
more remarkable for acuteness than foresight ; for 
tbose qualities of intellect which lead men to profit by 
experience, than those which enable them to direct it. 


I have already said tbat the speaking in the Senate 
is very superior to that in the other House; an 
opinion which I early took up, and subsequently felt 
no temptation to change. Yet the faults of both 
bodies differ rather in degree than in character. 
There is the same loose, desultory, and inconclusive 
mode of discussion in both ; but in the Senate there 
is less talking for the mere purpose of display, and 
less of that tawdry emptiness and vehement imbe- 
cility which prevails in the Representatives. Though 
the members of the Senate be absolutely and entirely 
dependent on the people, they are dependent in a 
larger sense ; dependent not on the petty clubs and 
coteries of a particular neighbourhood, but on great 
masses and numbers of men, embracing every interest 
and pursuit, and covering a wide extent of country. 
Then, from the comparative paucity of their num- 
bers, there is less jostling and scrambling in debate, 
more statesmanlike argument, and less schoolboy 
declamation ; in short, considerably less outcry, and 
a great deal more wool. 

The Senate contains men who would do honour to 
any legislative assembly in the world. Those who 


left the most vivid impression on my memory are 
Mr Livingstone, now Secretary of State, and Mr 
Webster, whose power?, both as a lawyer and a 
debater, are without rival in the United States. Of 
these eminent individuals, and others, whose inter- 
course I enjoyed during my stay in Washington, I 
shall hereafter have occasion to speak. There were 
other members of the Senate, however, to whose 
speeches I always listened with pleasure. Among 
these were General Hayne, from South Carolina, — 
who, as Governor of that State, has since put the 
Union in imminent peril of mutilation, — and Mr 
Tazewell, of Virginia, a speaker of great logical acute- 
ness, clear, forcible, and direct in his arguments. 
General Smith, of Maryland, and Mr Forsyth, of 
Georgia, both struck me as being particularly free 
from the sins that do most easily beset their country- 
men. When either of these gentlemen addressed 
the House, I always felt secure, not only that they 
had something to say, but that they had something 
worth saying ; an assurance of which they only who 
have gone through a course of Congressional debates 
can appreciate the full value. 


But whatever advantages the speeches of the Senate 
may possess over those of the Representatives, cer- 
tainly hrevity is not of the numher. Every subject 
is overlaid ; there is a continual sparring about trifles, 
and, it struck me, even a stronger display of sectional 
jealousies than in the other House. This latter 
quality probably arises from the senators being the 
representatives of an entire community, with sepa- 
rate laws, interests, and prejudices^ and constituting 
one of the sovereign members of the confederation. 
When a member declares his opinions on any ques- 
tion, he is understood to speak the sentiments of a 
State, and he is naturally jealous of the degree of 
respect with which so important a revelation may 
be received. Then there are state antipathies, and 
state affinities, a predisposition to offence in one 
quarter, and to lend support in another ; and there 
is the odium in longum jaciens between the Northern 
and Southern States, shedding its venom in every 
debate, and influencing the whole tenor of legisla- 

One of the great evils arising, in truth, out of the 
very nature of the Union, is the sectional spirit 


apparent in all the proceedings of Congress. A re- 
presentative from one State by no means considers 
himself bound to watch over the interests of another; 
and each being desirous to secure such local objects 
as may be conducive to the advantage of his own 
district, every species of trickery and cabal is put in 
requisition by which these objects may be obtained. 
There can be no doubt that the prevalence of such 
feelings is quite inconsistent with sound and whole- 
some legislation. Measures are estimated, not by 
their own merits, and their tendency to benefit the 
whole Union, but by the degree in which they can 
be made to subserve particular interests. One por- 
tion of the States is banded against another ; there 
is no feeling of community of interests; jealousies 
deepen into hostilities ; the mine is laid, a spark at 
length falls, and the grand federal Constitution is 
blown into a thousand fragments. 

Many evils arise from the circumstance of the 
Government, both in its executive and legislative 
branches, being purely elective. The members of 
the latter, being abjectly dependent on the people, 



are compelled to adopt both the principles and the 
policy dictated by their constituents. To attempt 
to stem the torrent of popular passion and clamourj 
by a policy at once firm and enlightened, must 
belong to representatives somewhat more firmly 
seated than any which are to be found in Congress. 
Public men in other countries may be the parasites 
of the people, but in America they are necessarily so. 
Independence is impossible. They are slaves, and 
feel themselves to be so. They must act, speak, and 
vote according to the will of their master. Let 
these men hide their chains as they will, still they 
are on their limbs, galling their flesh, and impeding 
their motions ; and it is, perhaps, the worst and 
most demoralizing result of this detestable system, 
that every man, ambitious of popular favour, — and 
in America who is not so? — is compelled to adopt 
a system of reservation. He keeps a set of exoteric 
dogmas, whicji may be changed or modified to suit 
the taste or fashion of the moment. But there are 
esoteric opinions, very different from any thing to 
be found in State documents, or speeches in Con- 
gress, or 4th of July orations, which embody the 


convictions of the man, and which are not to be 
surrendered up at the bidding of a mob. 

I speak now of minds of the higher order. The 
majority of Congress are fitted for nt)thing better 
than what they are. God meant them to be tools, 
and they are so. But there are men among them 
qualified to shine in a higher sphere ; who stand 
prominently out among the meaner spirits by whom 
they are surrounded, and would be distinguished in 
any country by vigour, activity, and comprehension 
of thought. These men must feel, that to devote 
their great powers to support and illustrate the pre- 
judices of the ignorant and vulgar, is to divert their 
application from those lofty purposes for which they 
were intended. It cannot he without a sense of de- 
gradation that they are habitually compelled to bear 
part in the petty squabbles of Congress ; to enter 
keenly into the miserable contests for candles- esids 
and cheeseparings; to become the ^ cats* paws of 
sectional cupidity ; to dole out prescribed opinions ; 
to dazzle with false glitter, and convince with 
false reasoning ; to flatter the ignorant, and truckle 
to the base ; to have no object of ambition but the 

116 BURKE. 

offices of a powerless executive ; to find no field for 
the exercise of their higher faculties ; to know they 
are distrusted, and, judging from the men with whom 
they mingle, to feci they ought to be so. 

It is to he wished that the writings of Burke were 
better known and appreciated in America. Of all 
modern statesmen, Burke brought to the practical 
duties of legislation the most gifted and philosophi- 
cal mind. In an age prolific in great men, he stood 
confessedly the greatest ; and while the efforts and 
the eloquence of his contemporaries were directed to 
overcome mere temporary emergencies, Burke con- 
templated the nobler achievement of vindicating un- 
answerably the true principles of enlightened govern- 
ment, and bequeathing to posterity the knowledge 
by which future errors might be avoided, and future 
difficulties overcome. 

It is this loftiness of purpose which constitutes the 
leading distinction of Burke, when compared with 
contemporary or succeeding statesmen. They spoke 
for the present; he for all times, present and future. 
Their wisdom was directed to meet the immediate 
perils and exigencies of the state ; his to establish 


great and memorable principles, by whicb all perils 
and all difficulties might be successfully encountered. 
The consequence has been, that while their words 
have passed away, his endure, and exert a permanent 
and increasing influence on the intellect of mankind. 
Who now resorts for lessons in political wisdom to 
the speeches of North, or Chatham, or Pitt, or Fox ? 
but where is the statesman who would venture to 
profess himself unread in those of Buvke ? 

That the opinions of this great political philoso- 
pher were sometimes erroneous may be admitted, 
yet it may truly be said that they were never found- 
ed on mere narrow views of temporary expediency, 
and that his errors were uniformly those of a grand 
and glorious intellect, scarcely less splendid in fail- 
ure than in triumph. 

The nature of the connexion wiiich ought to exist 
between the representative and his constituents, and 
the duties it imposes, are finely illustrated in the 
final address of Burke to the electors of Bristol. It 
were well if the people, both of England and America, 
would read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the 

following noble passages, not more remarkable for 


il8 BURkE* 

their wisdom and eloquence, than for their tone of 
dignified independence. 

" It is the duty of the representative," says this 
memorahle man, *' to sacrifice his repose, his plea- 
sures, his satisfactions, to his constituents. But his 
unbiassed opinion^ his mature judgment, his enlightened 
conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, 
or any set of men living. They are a trust from Pro- 
vidence, for the abuse of ivhich he is deeply answerable. 
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but 
his Judgment, and he betrays instead of serving 
YOU if he sacrifice it to your opinion.^' 


" If government were a matter of will upon any 
side, yours, without question, ought to he superior. 
But government and legislation are matters of rea- 
son and judgment, not of inclination. And what sort 
of reason is that, in ichich the determination precedes the 
discussion; in ivhich one set of men deliberate and an- 
other decide ; and where those who form the conclusion 
are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who 
hear the arguments ? " 

Once more. 


" Authoritative instructions, mandates, which the 
member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey; thelSt 
are things unknown to the laws of this land, and which 
arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole 
ment is not a Congress of Ambassadors from different 
states, and icith hostile interests, which interests each 
must maintain as an agent against other agents ; but 
Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, 
with ONE interest, and that of the whole. You choose a 
member, indeed ; but when you have chosen him, he 
is not member for Bristol, but he is a member of 

There is another evil connected with the practical 
working of the constitution, to which I feel it neces- 
sary briefly to advert. The election of the President 
affects so many interests and partialities, and appeals 
80 strongly to the passions of the people, that it is 
uniformly attended with a very injurious disturbance 
of the public tranquillity. The session ot Congress 
immediately preceding the election, is chiefly occu- 
pied by the manoeuvres of both parties to gain some 
advantage for their favourite candidate. The quan- 


tity of invective expended on men and measures is 
<fcnormously increased. The ordinary business of the 
country is neglected. Motions are made, and enqui- 
ries gone into, in the mere hope that something may 
be discovered which party zeal may convert into a 
weapon of attack or defence. In short, the legisla- 
ture of a great nation is resolved into electioneering 
committees of rival candidates for the Presidency. 

Witliout doors, the contest is no less keen. From 
one extremity of the Union to the other, the politi- 
cal war slogan is sounded. No quarter is given on 
either side. Every printing press in the United 
States is engaged in the conflict. Reason, justice, 
charity, the claims of age and of past services, of 
high talents and unspotted integrity, are forgotten. 
No lie is too malignant to be employed in this un- 
hallowed contest, if it can but serve the purpose of 
deluding even for a moment the most ignorant of 
mankind. No insinuation is too base, no equivoca- 
tion too mean, no artifice too paltry. The world 
affords no parallel to the scene of political depravity 
exMbited periodically in this free country. 

In Endand I know it will be believed that this 


picture is overcharged, that it is utterly impossible 
that any Christian community can be disgraced by 
scenes of such appalling atrocity. It may be sup- 
posed too, that in getting up materials for the charge, 
I have been compelled to go back to the earlier period 
of the constitution, to the days of Adams and Jeffer- 
son, when the struggle of men was the struggle of 
great principles, and the people were yet young and 
unpractised in the enjoyment of that liberty which 
they had so bravely earned. 

Of either hypothesis I regret to say that it is more 
charitable than true. I speak not of the United 
States as they were, but as they are. Let the moral 
character of the past generation of Americans rest 
with them undisturbed in their graves. Our busi- 
ness at present is with living men, and it is these who 
are now charged, not by me, but by writers of their 
own age and country, with the offences I have ven- 
tured to describe. 

" Party spirit,^^ says the late Governor Clinton, in 
his annual message to the legislature in 1828, quoted 
by Captain Hall, " has entered the recesses of retire- 
ment, violated the sanctity of female character, invaded 



the tranquillity of private life, and visited with severe 
inflictions the peace of families. Neither elevation 
nor humility has been spared, nor the charities of 
life, nor distinguished public services, nor the f reside, 
nor the altar, been left free from attack ; but a licen- 
tious and destroying spirit has gone forth, regardless of 
every thing, but the gratification of malignant feelings, 
and unworthy aspirations. The causes of this porten- 
tous mischief must be found, in a great measure, in 
the incompetent and injudicious provisions relative 
to the office of chief magistrate of the Union." 

In the American Annual Register, published at 
New York, for the years 1828 and 1829, a work of 
great merit and impartiality, the editor, in narrating 
the circumstances of the last Presidential election, 
thus writes : — 

'' Topics were introduced tending still more to 
inflame the public mind, and to prevent it from form- 
ing an unbiassed judgment upon continuing the 
existing policy of the country. In the excited state 
of popular feeling, the character and services of both 
candidates were overlooked ; and even Congress, in 
more instances than one, by a party vote, manifested 


that it had forgotten that some respect was due to 
the high and honourable station held by one of the 

" The example thus given by men from whose 
character and station better things might have been 
expected, was not without its effect upon the com- 
munity. In conducting the -political discussions which 
followed the adjournment of Congress, both truth and 
propriety were set at defiance. The decencies of private 
life were disregarded ; conversations and correspondence 
which should have been confidential were brought before 
the public eye ; the ruthless warfare was carried into the 
bosom of domestic life; neither age nor sex icas spared ; 
the daily press teemed with ribaldry and falsehood ; and 
even the tomb was not held sacred from the rancorous 
hostility which distinguished the presidential election of 

I shall certainly not endeavour, by any obser- 
vations of my own, to heighten the sentiment of 
disgust which such extraordinary revelations are 
calculated to excite. If I know my own motives, I 
allude to them at all, not with the contemptible and 
unworthy object of lowering the character of the 


American people in the eyes of my countrymen ; not 
to afford a paltry triumph to those in whose eyes 
freedom is a crime, and despotism a virtue ; but 
because it is due to truth and justice, and nearly 
concerns the political welfare of other nations, that 
the practical results of the Constitution of the United 
States should be known. 

In all previous experience, an elective chief ma- 
gistracy — it matters not whether the object of con- 
tention be the throne of a King, or the chair of a 
President — has been found incompatible with the 
peace and welfare of a community. The object is too 
liigh and spirit-stirring; it appeals too strongly to 
the hopes and passions of men ; it affects too many 
interests, not to lead to the employment of every 
available instrument for its attainment. In some 
circumstances the contest is decided by physical 
force ; in others, by falsehood, calumny, and those 
artifices by which cunning can impose upon igno- 
rance. Blood flows in the one case, and the land is 
desolated by civil war; character, moral dignity, 
and the holiest charities of life, are sacrificed in 
the other. 


One thing is certain. In the United States the 
experiment of an elective executive has been tried 
under the most favourable circumstances. The 
population is diffused over a vast extent of surface, 
and therefore less subject to be influenced by those 
delusions and impulses by which masses of men are 
liable to be misled. There exists in America no 
great and absorbing question of principle or policy, 
by which the feelings or the prejudices of men are 
violently excited. On the contrary, the general 
character of public measures has long ceased to 
furnish any broad or distinct grounds of dispute; 
and the contest, however vehement, has been that of 
rival politicians, rather than of contending princi- 
ples. Moreover, in the United States, a class of men 
condemned by uncontrollable causes to the suff'erings 
of abject poverty, is unknown. The means of sub- 
sistence are profusely spread everywhere, and the 
temptations to crime comparatively small. Let it be 
remembered, therefore, that it is under such circum- 
stances, and among a people so situated, that the 
experiment of periodically electing the chief officer 
of the commonwealth has been tried and failed. 


It is true indeed, that while confessing the gross- 
ness of the failure, many Americans would willingly 
attribute it to the injudicious provisions for the 
collection of the national suffrage. But the evil lies 
deeper. However the electoral body may be formed, 
an abundant field must always be left for the 
exercise of trickery and intrigue. The passions 
and prejudices of men must always be too deeply 
interested in the distribution of this high patronage 
for the continuance of public tranquillity. Slander, 
calumny, and the thousand atrocities which have 
hitherto disgraced the presidential elections, will 
continue to' burst their floodgates, and spread con- 
tamination through the land; and should a period 
of strong political excitement arrive, when men 
shall be arrayed, not in demonstration of mere per- 
sonal partialities, but in support of conflicting prin- 
ciples connected with their immediate interests, I 
confess, that I, at least, can find nothing in the 
American Constitution, on which to rest a hope for 
its permanence. 




In the basement story of one of the wings of the 
Capitol is the hall of the Supreme Court of the 
United States. It is by no means a large or hand- 
some apartment ; and the lowness of the ceiling, and 
the circumstance of its being under ground, give it 
a certain cellar-like aspect, which is not pleasant. 
This is perhaps unfortunate, because it tends to 
create in the spectator the impression of justice being 
done in a corner; and, that while the business of 
legislation is carried on with all the pride, pomp, 
and circumstance of glorious debate, in halls adorned 
with all the skill of the architect, the administration 
of men's rights is considered an affair of secondary 


Though the American law courts are no longer 
. contaminated by wigs, yet the partiality for robes 
would appear not yet to be wholly extinct. The 
judges of the Supreme Court wear black Geneva 
gowns ; and the proceedings of this tribunal are con- 
ducted with a degree of propriety, both judicial and 
forensic, which leaves nothing to be desired. I cer- 
tainly witnessed none of those violations of public 
decency, which in the State Courts are matters of 
ordinary occurrence. There was no lounging either 
. at the bar or on the bench ; nor was it, apparently, 
considered necessary to sink the gentleman in the 
lawyer, and assume a deportment in the discharge 
of professional duty which would not be tolerated 
in private society. 

The Supreme Court consists of seven judges, re- 
movable only by impeachment, and possesses a federal 
jurisdiction over the whole Union. It sits annually 
in Washington for about two months, and is alone 
competent to decide on questions connected with the 
constitution or laws of the United States. Though 
possessing original jurisdiction in a few cases, its 
chief duties consist in the exercise of an appellate 


jurisdiction from the Circuit Courts, which are held 
twice a-year in the different States. 

It would be tedious to enumerate the various cases 
in which the Federal Courts, in their three grada- 
tions of Supreme, Circuit, and District, exercise an 
exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction. It is enough 
that it should be generally understood that the Su- 
preme Court is the sole expounder of the written 
constitution ; and when we consider how open this 
important instrument has been proved to diversity of 
interpretation, what opposite meanings have been 
put upon its simplest clauses, and, in short, that the 
Constitution is precisely whatever four judges of this 
court may choose to make it, it will be seen how 
vitally important is the power with which it has been 
intrusted, and how difficult must be its exercise. 

But the difficulties of the Supreme Court do not 
end here. Its jurisdiction extends not over a homo- 
geneous population, but a variety of distinct commu- 
nities, born under different laws, and adopting dif- 
ferent forms in their administration. 

Causes before the State Courts, in which the laws 
of the United States are even collaterally involved, 


are removable by writ of error to the Supreme 
Federal Court, and the decision of the State Court 
may be affirmed or reversed. In the latter case, a 
mandate is issued directing the State Court to con- 
form its judgment to that of the Supreme Court. But 
the State tribunal is at perfect liberty to disregard 
the mandate, should it think proper ; for the principle 
is established, that no one court can command an- 
other, but in virtue of an authority resting on express 
stipulation, and it is the duty of each judicature to 
decide how far this authority has been constitution- 
ally exercised. 

Then the legislatures of different States have 
found it occasionally convenient to pass laws for the 
purpose of defrauding their foreign creditors, while, 
in the case of Great Britain at least, the federal 
government is bound by express treaty that no law- 
ful impediment shall be interposed to the recovery 
of the debts due by American citizens to British 
subjects. Under such circumstances, the Federal 
Court, backed by the whole honest portion of the 
people, certainly succeeded in putting a stop to the 
organized system of State swindling adopted by 


Kentucky after the late war ; but awkward circum- 
stances occurred, and the question may yet be con- 
sidered practically undecided, whether the State 
legislatures possess a controlling power over the 
execution of a judgment of the Supreme Court. 

Should a case occur, as is far from improbable, 
in which the federal legislature and judiciary are at 
variance, it would, no doubt, be the duty of the lat- 
ter to declare every unconstitutional act of the for- 
mer null and void. But under any circumstances, 
the Court has no power of enforcing its decrees. 
For instance, let us take the Indian question, and 
suppose, that in defiance of treaties, Georgia should 
persist in declaring the Creek and Cherokee Indians 
subject to the State laws, in order to force them to 
migrate beyond the Mississippi. The Indians appeal 
to the Supreme Court, and demand protection from 
unprincipled violence. The Court recognises their 
rights, and issues its mandate, which is just so much 
waste paper, unless the Government choose to send 
a military force along with it, which neither the 
present Congress nor executive would be inclined 
to do. 


With all its sources of weakness, however, the 
United States Court is a wise institution. It is 
truly the sheet-anchor of the Union ; and the degree 
of respect in which its decrees are held, may be 
considered as an exact index of the moral strength 
of the compact by which the discordant elements of 
the federal commonwealth are held together. 

The most distiDguished lawyers of the Union 
practise in the Supreme Court, and I had there an 
opportunity of hearing many of the more eminent 
members of Congress. During my stay there was 
no Jury trial, and the proceedings of the Court con- 
sisted chiefly in delivering judgments, and in listen- 
ing to legal arguments from the bar. The tone of 
the speeches was certainly very different from any 
thing I had heard in Congress. The lawyers seemed 
to keep their declamation for the House of Represen- 
tatives, and in the Supreme Court spoke clearly, 
logically, and to the point. Indeed, I was more 
than once astonished to hear men whose speeches 
in Congress were rambling and desultory, in an 
extreme degree, display, in their forensic addresses, 
great legal acuteness, and resources of argument 


and illustration of the first order. In addressing the 
bench, they seemed to cast the slough of their vicious 
peculiarities, and spoke, not like schoolboys con. 
tending for a prize, but like men of high intellectual 
powers, solicitous not to dazzle but to convince. 

A few days after the interview already mentioned, 
I received the honour of an invitation to dine with 
the President. It unfortunately happened, that on 
the day indicated, I was already engaged to a party 
at Mr Van Buren's ; and on enquiring the etiquette 
on such occasions, I was informed that an invitation 
from the President was not held to authorize any 
breach of engagement to the leading member of the 
Cabinet. The President, however, having politely 
intimated that he received company every evening, 
I ventured, along with a distinguished member of the 
House of l?epresentatives, to present myself, on one 
occasion, at the " White House."* 

We found the President had retired with a head- 
ache, but in a few minutes he appeared, though, 
from the heaviness of his eye, evidently in a state of 

* The President's house is very generally so designated in Wash- 


considerable pain. This, however, had no influence 
on his conversation, which was spirited, and full of 
vivacity. He informed us that he had been unwell 
for several days, and having the fatigues of a levee 
to encounter on the following evening, he had retired 
early in order to recruit for an occasion which re- 
quired the presence of all his bodily powers. When 
this subject was dismissed, the conversation turned 
on native politics, the Indian question, the powers of 
tlie Supreme Court, and a recent debate in the 
Senate, whicli had excited considerable attention. 

Of the opinions expressed by this distinguished 
person, it would be unpardonable were I to say any 
thing; but I heard them with deep interest, and cer- 
tainly considered them to be marked by that union 
of boldness and sagacity, whicli is generally suppo- 
sed to form a prominent feature of his character. 
General Jackson spoke like a man so thoroughly con- 
vinced of the justice of his views, that he announced 
ihem unhesitatingly and without reserve. This 
openness might be increased, perhaps, by the know- 
ledge of my companion being a decided supporter of 
his government ; but sincerity is so legible both in 


his countenance and manner, that I feel convinced 
that nothing but the strongest motives of state 
policy could make him hesitate, under any circum- 
stances, to express boldly what he felt strongly. 

On the following evening I attended the levee. 
The apartments were already full before I arrived, 
and the crowd extended even into the hall. Three 
— I am not sure that there were not four — large 
saloons were thrown open on the occasion, and 
were literally crammed with the most singular and 
miscellaneous assemblage I had ever seen. 

The numerical majority of the company seemed of 
the class of tradesmen or farmers, respectable men 
fresh from the plough or the counter, who, accompa- 
nied by their wives and daughters, came forth to greet 
their President, and enjoy the splendours of the 
gala. There were also generals and commodores, 
and public officers of every description, and foreign 
ministers and members of Congress, and ladies of all 
ages and degrees of beauty, from the fair and laugh- 
ing girl of fifteen, to the haggard dowager of seventy. 
There were majors in broad cloth and corduroys, 
redolent of gin and tobacco, and majors' ladies in 


chintz or russet, with huge Paris ear-rings, and 
tawny necks, profusely decorated with beads of co- 
loured glass. There were tailors from the board, 
and judges from the bench; lawyers who opened 
their mouths at one bar, and the tapster who closed 
them at another; — in short, every trade, craft, call- 
ing, and profession, appeared to have sent its dele- 
gates to this extraordinary convention. 

For myself, I had seen too much of the United 
States to expect any thing very different, and cer- 
tainly anticipated that the mixture would contain all 
the ingredients I have A^entured to describe. Yet 
after all, I was taken by surprise. There were 
present at this levee, men begrimed with all the 
sweat and filth accumulated in their day's — per- 
haps their week's — labour. There were sooty arti- 
ficers, evidently fresh from the forge or the workshop ; 
and one individual, I remember — either a miller or 
a baker — who, wherever he passed, left marks of 
contact on the garments of the company. The most 
prominent group, however, in the assemblage, was 
a party of Irish labourers, employed on some neigh- 
bouring canal, who had evidently been apt scholars 

president's levee. 137 

in the doctrine of liberty and equality, and were 
determined, on the present occasion, to assert the 
full privileges of " the great unwashed." I remarked 
these men pushing aside the more respectable por- 
tion of the company with a certain jocular audacity, 
which put one in mind of the humours of Donny- 

A party, composed of the materials I have descri- 
bed, could possess but few attractions. The heat of 
the apartment was very great, and the odours — 
certainly not Sabsean — which occasionally affected 
the nostrils, were more pungent than agreeable. I 
therefore pushed on in search of the President, in 
order that, having paid my respects in acknowledg- 
ment of a kindness for which I really felt grateful, 
I might be at liberty to depart. My progress, how- 
ever, was slow, for the company in the exterior 
saloons were wedged together in a dense mass, 
penetrable only at occasional intervals. I looked 
everywhere for the President as I passed, but without 
success ; but at length a friend, against whom I hap- 
pened to be jostled, informed me that I should find 
him at the extremity of the most distant apartment, 



The information was correct. There stood the 
President, whose looks still indicated indisposition, 
paying one of the severest penalties of gi-eatness ; 
compelled to talk when he had nothing to say, and 
shake hands with men whose A^ery appearance 
suggested the precaution of a glove. I must say, 
however, that under these unpleasant circumstances, 
he bore himself well and gracefully. His countenance 
expressed perfect good-humour ; and his manner to 
the ladies was so full of well-bred gallantry, that 
having, as I make no doubt, the great majority of 
the fair sex on his side, the chance of his being 
unseated at the next election must be very small. 

I did not, however, remain long a spectator of the 
scene. Having gone through the ordinary ceremo- 
nial, I scrambled out of the crowd the best way I 
could, and bade farewell to the most extraordinary 
scene it had ever been my fortune to witness. It is 
only fair to state, however, that during my stay in 
Washington, I never heard the President's levee men- 
tioned in company without an expression of indignant 
feeling on the part of the ladies, at the circumstances 
1 have narrated. To the better order of Americans, 


indeed, it cannot but be painful that their wives and 
daughters should thus be compelled to mingle with 
the very lowest of the people. Yet the evil, whatever 
may be its extent, is in truth the necessary result of a 
form of government essentially democratic. Wherever 
universal suffrage prevails, the people are, and must 
be, the sole depository of political power. The 
American President well knows that his only chance 
of continuance in office, consists in his concilia- 
ting the favour of the lowest — and therefore most 
numerous — order of his constituents. The rich and 
intelligent are a small minority, and their opinion he 
may despise. The poor, the uneducated, are, in every 
country, the people. It is to them alone that a pub- 
lic man in America can look for the gratification of 
his ambition. They are the ladder by which he must 
mount, or be content to stand on a level with his 

Under such circumstances, it is impossible there 
should be any exclusion of the real governors of the 
country wherever they may think proper to intrude. 
General Jackson is quite aware, that the smallest 
demonstration of disrespect even to the meanest 


mechanic, might incur the loss of his popularity in 
a whole neighbourhood. Tt is evident, too, that the 
class in actual possession of the political patronage 
of a community, is in effect, whatever be their desig- 
nation, the first class in the state. In America, this 
influence belongs to the poorest and least educated. 
Wealth and intelligence are compelled to bend to 
poverty and ignorance, to adopt their prejudices, to 
copy their manners, to submit to their government. 
In short, the order of reason and common sense is 
precisely inverted ; and while the roots of the poli- 
tical tree arc waving in the air, its branches are 
buried in the ground. 

During the time I was engaged at the levee, my 
servant remained in the hall through which lay the 
entrance to the apartments occupied by the com- 
pany, and on the day following he gave me a few 
details of a scene somewhat extraordinary, but suffi- 
ciently characteristic to merit record. It appeared 
that the refreshments intended for the company, con- 
sisting of punch and lemonade, were brought by the 
servants, with the intention of reaching the interior 
saloon. No sooner, however, were these ministers 


of Bacchus descried to be approaching by a portion 
of the company, than a rush was made from within, 
the whole contents of the trays were seized in tran- 
situ^ by a sort o^ coup-de-main ; and the bearers having 
thus rapidly achieved the distribution of their re- 
freshments, had nothing for it but to return for a 
fresh supply. This was brought, and quite as com- 
pendiously despatched, and it at length became appa- 
rent, that without resorting to some extraordinary 
measures, it would be impossible to accomplish the 
intended voyage, and the more respectable portion 
of the company would be suffered to depart with dry 
palates, and in utter ignorance of the extent of the 
hospitality to which they were indebted. 

The butler, however, was an Irishman, and in 
order to baffle further attempts at intercepting the 
supplies, had recourse to an expedient marked by all 
the ingenuity of his countrymen. He procured an 
escort, armed them with sticks, and on his next 
advance these men kept flourishing their shillelahs 
around the trays, with such alarming vehemence, 
that the predatory horde, who anticipated a repeti- 
tion of their plunder, were scared from their prey. 


and, amid a scene of execrations and laughter, the 
refreshments, thus guarded, accomplished their jour- 
ney to the saloon in safety ! 

Washington, the seat of government of a free peo- 
ple, is disgraced by slavery. The waiters in the 
hotels, the servants in private families, and many 
of the lower class of artisans, are slaves. While 
the orators in Congress are rounding periods about 
liberty in one part of the city, proclaiming, alto voce, 
that all men are equal, and that " resistance to ty- 
rants is obedience to God," the auctioneer is exposing 
human flesh to sale in another ! I remember a gifted 
gentleman in the Representatives, who, in speaking 
of the Senate, pronounced it to be " the most enlight- 
ened, the most august, and most imposing body in 
the world !" In regard to the extent of imposition, 
I shall not speak ; but it so happened that the day 
was one of rain, and the effect of the eulogium was 
a good deal injured by recollecting that, an hour or 
two before, the members of this enlightened and 
august body were driven to the Capitol by slave 
coachmen, who were at that very moment waiting 


to convey them back, when the rights of man had 
been sufficiently disserted on for the day. 

I trust I do not write on this painful subject in 
an insulting spirit. That slavery should exist in the 
United States is far less the fault than the misfortune 
of the people. The present generation were born 
with the curse upon them ; they are the involuntary 
inheritors of a patrimony of guilt and misery, and 
are condemned to pay the penalty of that original 
sin, which has left a deep tarnish on the memory of 
our common ancestors. But that slavery should 
exist in the district of Columbia, that even the foot- 
print of a slave should be suffered to contaminate the 
soil peculiarly consecrated to Freedom, that the very 
shrine of the Goddess should be polluted by the pre- 
sence of chains and fetters, is perhaps the most extra- 
ordinary and monstrous anomaly to which human 
inconsistency — a prolific mother — has given birth. 

The man who would study the contradictions of 
individual and national character, and learn by how 
wide an interval, profession may be divided from per- 
formance, should come to Washington. He will there 
read a new page in the volume of human nature ; 


he will observe how compatible is the extreme of 
physical liberty, with bondage of the understanding. 
He will hear the words of freedom, and he will see 
the practice of slavery. Men who sell their fellow- 
creatures v/ill discourse to him of indefeasible rights ; 
the legislators, who truckle to a mob, will stun him 
with professions of independence ; he will be taught 
the affinity between the democrat and the tyrant ; he 
will look for charters, and find manacles ; expect 
liberality, and be met by bigotry and prejudice; — 
in short, he will probably return home a wiser, if 
not a better man, — more patient of inevitable evils, 
— more grateful for the blessings he enjoys, — better 
satisfied with his own country and government, — 
and less disposed to sacrifice the present good for a 
contingent better. 

In Washington, there is little to be done in the 
way of sight- seeing. There is a theatre, which I 
was too much occupied to visit. The churches have 
nothing about them to attract observation. The 
patent office contains models of all the mechanical 
inventions of this ingenious people, and their num- 
ber is more remarkable than their value. In a thinly 


peopled country, men are thrown upon their indivi- 
dual resources. Where labour cannot be commanded, 
it is natural they should endeavour to strike out 
contrivances by which it may be economized. The 
misfortune is, that each man being ignorant of what 
has been effected by others, finds- it necessary to 
begin de novo. He invents, takes out a patent, and 
then probably discovers that the same thing had been 
better done before. 

In the Secretary of State's office, is an apartment 
containing portraits of all the Indian chiefs who 
have visited Washington. The portraits are ill exe- 
cuted, but full of character; and the collection is 
interesting, as exhibiting the last and only memorial 
of men, great in their generation, but without poet 
or historian to perpetuate the memory of their great- 
ness. Many of the countenances are full of noble 
expression, and bear the impress of a wild but tran- 
quil grandeur. Others are of dark, savage, and 
ferocious aspect, with an eye full of cunning, and a 
stern inflexibility of muscle, which seems to say, 
" I slay, and spare not." A {qw are expressive of 
mildness and benevolence ; and when I remembered 

VOL. II. w 


tlie melancholy liistory of this fated race, and the 
liopeless contest they are compelled to wage with 
civilized rapacity, I felt it impossible to gaze on these 
records of their lineaments without pain. 

My visit to Washington brought with it the ad- 
vantage of forming acquaintance with many distin- 
guished individuals, of some of whom I would now 
willingly be permitted to record my impressions. 
First in rank is Mr Calhoun, the Vice-President of 
the United States. This gentleman was formerly a 
candidate for the Presidency, but resigned his pre- 
tensions in favour of General Jackson. Subsequent 
differences, however, with that eminent person, have 
produced a separation of their interests, and it is not 
generally supposed that he has much chance of suc- 
ceeding at the next election. Mr Calhoun is about 
tlie middle height, spare, and somewhat slouching 
in person. His countenance, though not handsome, 
is expressive, and enlivened by a certain vivacity of 
eye which might redeem plainer features. His head 
is large, and somewhat disfigured by a quantity of 
stiff bristly hair, which rises very high above his fore- 
liead. In conversation he is pleasant, and remark- 


ably free from that dogmatism which constitutes not 
the least of the social sins of Americans. Mr Cal- 
houn evidently disregards all graces of expression, 
and whatever be the subject of discussion, comes 
directly to the point. His manner and mode of 
speaking indicate rapidity of thought, and it struck 
me, that, with full confidence in his own high talents, 
Mr Calhoun would probably find it more agreeable 
to carry truth by a coup de main, than to await the 
slower process of patient induction. It is evident, 
indeed, at the first glance, that the Vice-President 
is no ordinary person. His mind is bold and acute ; 
his talent for business confessedly of the first order ; 
and enjoying the esteem of his countrymen, there 
can be little doubt that he is yet destined to play a 
conspicuous part in the politics of the Union. 

Mr Edward Livingstone, then Senator for Louisi- 
ana, shortly after my departure from Washington, 
became Secretary of State. Bred to the New York 
bar, he early took his station in the very first line of 
his profession. As a philosophical lawyer, he stands 
not only unrivalled, but unapproached. His expe- 
rience in public life has been very great ; and his 


high talents, extensive knowledge, and amiable cha- 
racter, have deservedly acquired for him the admi- 
ration and esteem of a people not prompt in the 
payment of such tribute. 

Mr Livingstone's fame, however, is not American, 
but European. The criminal code which he has 
framed for Louisiana, is confessedly a magnificent 
specimen of philosophical legislation, and places the 
reputation of its author on a secure and permanent 
foundation. From this code the punishment of death 
is excluded, and Mr Livingstone is a warm advocate 
for its removal from the statute-books of the other 

The labours of Mr Livingstone in the compilation 
of his code were, for many years, unwearied and 
assiduous. PJen of more limited knowledge, and in- 
ferior powers, would have been unfit for such a task. 
Men of less enthusiasm would have shrunk from it 
in dismay. Mr Livingstone, fortunately for himself 
and his country, braved all difficulties, devoted to it 
the whole energies of his mind, and brought it to a 
luippy comj)letion. 

Animated by the zeal of a philapthropist, he made 


himself acquainted with the laws of all nations, and 
the contents of every treatise on crime and punish- 
ment which could he discovered in Europe. He 
maintained an extensive correspondence with the 
most eminent political philosophers of the age, and 
among others, with Bentham, hy whose enlightened 
advice he professes to have largely profited. 

One incident in the life of Mr Livingstone is wor- 
thy of record, as affording a fine illustration of the 
character of the man. His labours connected with 
the code were already far advanced, when his whole 
papers were destroyed hy fire. This happened at 
ten o'clock at night, and at seven on the following 
morning, with unbroken spirit, he began his task 
afresh ! Few men are endowed with such buoy- 
ancy of spirit, or such indomitable perseverance. 

In person, Mr Livingstone is rather above the 
middle height. His countenance, though without 
elegance of feature, is peculiarly pleasing, from the 
benevolence of its expression, and a certain enthu- 
siasm, unusual at his years, which lights up his eye 
when he discourses on any interesting subject. His 
manners are those of a finished gentleman, yet rather, 


I should imagine, the spontaneous result of an innate 
and natural delicacy of thought and feeling, than 
of intercourse with polished society. To the cour- 
tesy and kindness of this eminent individual I feel 
deeply indebted. It is with pleasure that I now give 
public expression to those sentiments of admiration 
and respect, which I shall ever entertain for his cha- 
racter and talents. 

The person, however, who has succeeded in rivet- 
ing most strongly the attention of the whole Union, 
i8 undoubtedly Mr Webster. From the Gulf of St 
Lawrence to that of Mexico, from Cape Sable to 
Lake Superior, his name has become, as it were, a 
household word. Many disapprove his politics, but 
none deny his great talents, his unrivalled fertility 
of argument, or his power, even still more re- 
markable, of rapid and comprehensive induction. 
In short, it is universally believed by his country- 
men that Mr Webster is a great man ; and in this 
matter I certainly make no pretension to singularity 
of creed. Mr Webster is a man of whom any coun- 
try might well be proud. His knowledge is at once 
extensive and minute, his intellectual resources very 


great; and whatever may be the subject of discussion, 
he is sure to shed on it the light of an active, acute, 
and powerful mind. 

I confess, however, I did meet Mr Webster under 
the influence of some prejudice. From the very day 
of my arrival in the United States, I had been made 
involuntarily familiar with his name and pretensions. 
Gentlemen sent me his speeches to read. When I 
talked of visiting Boston, the observation uniformly 
followed, " Ah ! there you will see Mr Webster." 
When I reached Boston, I encountered condolence 
on all hands. " You are very unfortunate," said 
my friends, " Mr Webster set out yesterday for 
Washington." Whenever, at Philadelphia and Bal- 
timore, it became known that I had visited Boston, 
the question, " Did you see Mr Webster?" was a 
sequence as constant and unvarying as that of the 

The result of all this was, that the name of Web- 
ster became invested in my ear with an adventitious 
cacophony. It is not pleasant to admire upon com- 
pulsion, and the very preeminence of this gentleman 
had been converted into something of a bore. To 


Washington, however, I came, armed with letters to 
the unconscious source of my annoyance. The first 
night of my arrival I met him at a ball. A dozen 
people pointed him out to my observation, and the 
first glance riveted my attention. I had never seen 
any countenance more expressive of intellectual 

The forehead of Mr Webster is high, broad, and 
advancing. The cavity beneath the eyebrow is 
remarkably large. The eye is deeply set, but full, 
dark, and penetrating in the highest degree ; the nose 
prominent, and well defined; the mouth marked by 
that rigid compression of the lips by which the New 
Englanders are distinguished. When Mr Webster's 
countenance is in repose, its expression struck me as 
cold and forbidding, but in conversation it lightens 
up; and when he smiles, the whole impression it com- 
municates is at once changed. His voice is clear, 
sharp, and firm, without much variety of modula- 
tion ; but when animated, it rings on the ear like a 

As an orator, I should imagine Mr Webster's 
forte to lie in the department of pure reason. I can- 


not conceive his even attempting an appeal to the 
feelings. It could not be successful; and lie has 
too much knowledge of his own powers to encounter 
failure. In debate his very countenance must tell. 
Few men would hazard a voluntary sophism under 
the glance of that eye, so cold, so keen, so penetra- 
ting, so expressive of intellectual power. A single 
look would be enough to wither up a whole volume 
of bad logic. 

In the Senate I had uu fortunately no opportunity 
of hearing Mr Webster display his great powers as 
a debater. During my stay the subjects on which 
he happened to speak were altogether of inferior 
interest. In the Supreme Court he delivered several 
legal arguments which certainly struck me as admi- 
rable, both in regard to matter and manner. The 
latter was neither vehement nor subdued. It was 
the manner of conscious power, tranquil and self- 

Mr Webster may be at once acquitted of all par- 
ticipation in the besetting sins of the orators of his 
age and country. I even doubt whether in any 
single instance he can be fairly charged with having 


uttered a sentence of mere declamation. His speeches 
have nothing about them of gaudiness and glitter. 
Words with him are instruments, not ends; the 
vehicles, not of sound merely, but of sense and rea- 
son. He utters no periods full of noise and fury, 
like the voice of an idiot, signifying — nothing; and 
it certainly exhibits proof that the taste of the Ame- 
ricans is not yet irretrievably depraved, when an 
orator like Mr Webster, who despises all the stale 
and petty trickery of his art, is called by acclamation 
to the first place. 

In conversation, Mr Webster is particularly agree- 
able. It seems to delight him, when he mingles with 
his friends, to cast off the trammels of weighty cogi- 
tation, and merge the lawyer and the statesman in 
the companion; — a more pleasant and instructive one 
I have rarely known in any country. As a politi- 
cian, the opinions of Mr Webster are remarkably 
free from intolerance. His knowledge is both accu- 
rate and extensive. He is one of the few men in 
America who understand the British Constitution, 
not as a mere abstract system of laws and institu- 
tions, but in its true form and pressure, as it works 


and acts upon the people, modified by a thousand 
influences, of which his countrymen in general know 

Mr Van Buren, then Secretary of State, and now 
Vice-President, possesses perhaps more of the man- 
ner which in England would be called that of the 
world, than any other of the distinguished individuals 
whom I met in Washington. He is evidently a 
clever man, with a perfect knowledge of character, 
and the springs of human action. Neither his con- 
versation nor his manner are marked by any thing 
of official reserve. Indeed, where the whole busi- 
ness of the gOA^ernment is conducted by committees 
of the Senate and Representatives, an American 
Secretary of State can have few secrets, and those 
not of much value. The opponents of the ministry, 
however, accuse Mr Van Buren of being a manoeu- 
vrer in politics — a charge, I presume, to which he 
is obnoxious only in common with his brother states- 
men, of whatever party; for where independence is 
impossible, finesse is necessary. But on the details 
of party politics I say nothing ; I only know that 
the Secretary of State is a gentleman of talent and 


informatioD, of agreeable manners, and in conversa- 
tion full of anecdote and vivacity. 

After a sojourn of three weeks, I began to tbink 
of departure, but a farewell ball, given by the Bri- 
tish Minister, preparatory to his quittiug Washing- 
ton, induced me to prolong my stay. Mr Vaughan 
had won golden opinions from all parties and condi- 
tions of Americans. No minister had ever been 
more highly esteemed, and the knowledge that the 
precarious state of his health rendered it necessary 
that he should return to England, contributed to cast 
something of gloom over the festi\aty. The scene, 
however, was very brilliant; and the company, 
though numerous, certainly more select than the 
party at the French Minister's. There were at least 
no dirty boots, — a blessing which the Washington 
ladies, I have no doubt, estimated at its full value. 
On the day following I took my departure. 




From Washington I returned to Baltimore, where 
I experienced a renewal of that kindness and hospi- 
tality, to which on my former visit I had been so 
largely indebted. As the best mode of proceeding 
to the South, I had been recommended to cross from 
Baltimore to Wheeling, on the Ohio, and there to 
take steam for New Orleans, so soon as the naviga- 
tion of the river should be reported open. For this 
intelligence, however, it was necessary to wait in 
Baltimore, and certainly a more agreeable place 
of confinement could not have been selected. 

Fortune favoured me. In a few days the newspapers 
announced that the ice had broken up, and the Ohio 
was again navigable. Having had the good fortune 


to encounter one of my English fellow-passengers 
by the New York, likewise bound for New Orleans, 
we agreed to travel together, and on the morning 
of the 6th of March, before daylight, stepped into 
the railway carriage which was to convey us ten 
miles on our journey. 

The vehicle was of a description somewhat novel. 
It was, in fact, a wooden house or chamber, some- 
what like those used by itinerant showmen in Eng- 
land, and was drawn by a horse at the rate of about 
four miles an hour. Our progress, therefore, was 
not rapid, and we were nearly three hours in reach- 
ing a place called Ellicot Mills, where we found a 
wretched breakfast awaiting our arrival. 

Having done honour to the meal in a measure ra- 
ther proportioned to our appetites than to the quality 
of the viands, we embarked in what was called the 
" Accommodation Stage," — so designated, probably, 
from the absence of every accommodation which 
travellers usually expect in such a vehicle. The 
country through which we passed was partially 
covered with snow. The appearance both of the 
dwelling-houses and the inhabitants gave indication 


of poverty, wliicli was confirmed by the rough and 
stony aspect of the soil wherever it was visible. The 
coach stopped to dinner at a considerable village 
called Frederickstown, where the appearance of the 
entertainment was so forbidding that I found it 
impossible to eat. My appetite, therefore, was some- 
what overweening, when we reached Hagarstown, 
a place of some magnitude, where we halted for 
the night, having accomplished a distance of eighty 

At three o'clock on the following morning we 
again started on our journey. The roads were much 
worse than we had found them on the preceding day, 
the country was buried deeper in snow, and our pro- 
gress was in consequence slower. The appearance 
of poverty seemed to increase as we advanced. Here 
and there a ragged negro slave was seen at work 
near the wretched log hovel of his master ; and the 
number of deserted dwellings which skirted the 
road, and of fields suffered to relapse into a state of 
nature, showed that their former occupants had 
gone forth in search of a more grateful soil. 

We breakfasted at Clearspring, a trifling village, 


and then commenced mounting the eastern ridge of the 
Alleghanics, called Sideling Mountain. To one who 
has trodden the passes of the Alps and Apennines, the 
Alleghany Mountains present nothing very striking. 
Indeed, the general character of American mountains 
is by no means picturesque. They are round and 
corpulent protuberances, and rarely rise into forms 
of wild and savage grandeur. But some of the scenes 
presented by the Alleghanics are very fine. Nature, 
when undisturbed by man, is never without a beauty 
of her own. But even in these remote mountain 
recesses the marks of wanton havoc are too often 
visible. Numbers of the trees by the road were 
scorched and mutilated, with no intelligible object 
but that of destruction. Objects the most sublime 
or beautiful have no sanctity in the eyes of an 
American. He is not content with the full power 
of enjoyment, he must exert the privilege to deface. 
Our day's journey terminated at Flintstown, a 
solitary inn, near which is a mineral spring, whereof 
the passengers drank each about a gallon, without 
experiencing, as they unanimously declared, effect of 


any sort. I own I did not regret the inefficiency of 
the waters. 

With the morning of the third day our difficulties 
commenced. We now approached the loftier ridges 
of the Alleghanies ; the roads hecame worse, and our 
progress slower. The scenery was similar in cha- 
racter to that we had already passed. The moun- 
tains from hase to summit were covered with wood, 
interspersed with great quantities of kalmias, rho- 
dodendrons, and other flowering shruhs. 

On the day following our route lay over a ridge 
called the Savage Mountain. The snow lay deeper 
every mile of our advance, and at length, on reach- 
ing a miserahle inn, the landlord informed us, that 
no carriage on wheels had heen ahle to traverse the 
mountain for six weeks. On enquiring for a sleigh, 
it then appeared that none was to he had, and the 
natives all assured us that proceeding with our pre- 
sent carriage was impossible. The landlord dilated 
on the depth of snow, the dangers of the mountain, 
the darkness of the nights, and strongly urged our 
taking advantage of his hospitality till the following 
day. But the passengers were all anxious to push 

VOL. II. o 


forward, and, as one of tbem happened to be a pro- 
prietor of the coach, the driver very unwillingly 
determined on making the attempt. We accordingly 
set forth, but had not gone above a mile when the 
coach stuck fast in a snow-drift, which actually 
buried the horses. In this predicament the whole 
men and horses of the little village were summoned 
to our assistance, and, after about two hours' delay, 
the vehicle was again set free. 

We reached the next stage in a hollow of the 
mountain, without further accident, and the report 
as to the state of the roads yet to be travelled was 
very unpromising. The majority of the passen- 
gers, however, having fortified tbeir courage with 
copious infusions of brandy, determined not to be 
delayed by peril of any sort. On we weiit, there- 
fore; the night was pitchy dark; heavy rain came 
on, and the wind howled loudly amid the bare and 
bony arms of the surrounding forest. The road lay 
along a succession of precipitous descents, down 
which, by a single blunder of the driver, who was 
quite drunk, we might at any moment be precipi- 
tated. Dangerous as, under these circumstances. 


our progress unquestionably was, the journey was 
accomplished in safety ; and halting for the night 
at a petty village, situated between the ridge we 
had crossed, and another which yet remained to 
be surmounted, the passengers exchanged congratu- 
lations on the good fortune which had hitherto at- 
tended them. 

Before sunrise we were again on the road, and 
commenced the ascent of Laurel Mountain, Avhich 
occupied several hours. The view from the summit 
was fine and extensive, though perhaps deficient in 
variety. We had now surmounted the last ridge of 
the Alleghanies, and calculated on making the rest 
of our way in comparative ease and comfort. This 
was a mistake. Though we found little snow to the 
westward of the mountains, the road was most exe- 
crable, and the jolting exceeded any thing I had yet 
experienced. The day's journey terminated at Wash- 
ington, a town of considerable population, with a 
tavern somewhat more comfortable than the wretch* 
ed and dirty dogholes to which, for some days, we 
had been condemned. 

During our last day's journey we passed through 


a richer country, but experienced no improvement 
in the road, which is what is called a national one, 
or, in other words, constructed at the expense of the 
general government. If intended by Congress to 
act as an instrument of punishment on their sove- 
reign constituents, it is no doubt very happily adapt- 
ed for the purpose. In its formation all the ordi- 
nary principles of road-making are reversed; and 
that grateful travellers may bo instructed to whom 
they are indebted for their fractures and contusions, 
a column has been erected to Mr Clay, on which his 
claims to the honours of ariifex maximus, are duly 

The tedium of the journey, however, was enli- 
vened by the presence of a very pretty and commu- 
nicative young lady, returning from a visit in the 
neighbourhood, to Alexandria, the place of her resi- 
dence. From her I gathered every information with 
regard to the state of polite society in these tra- 
montane regions. This fair damsel evidently made 
conquest of a Virginian doctor, who had been our 
fellow-traveller for some days, and was peculi- 
arly disgusting from an inordinate addiction to the 


vernacular vices of dram-drinking and tobacco- 
chewing. Being generally drunk, he spat right and 
left in the coach, and especially after dark, dis- 
charged volleys of saliva, utterly reckless of conse- 
quences. One night I was wakened from a sound 
sleep by the outcries of a Quaker, into whose eye he 
had squirted a whole mouthful of tobacco juice. 
The pain caused by this offensive application to so 
delicate an organ was very great. Broadbrim for- 
got for the nonce all the equanimity of his cloth ; 
cursed the doctor for a drunken vagabond; and, 
on reaching our resting-place for the night, I cer- 
tainly observed that his eye had suffered considerable 
damage. For myself, being a tolerably old travel- 
ler, I no sooner discovered the doctor's propensity, 
than I contrived to gain possession of the seat im- 
mediately behind him, and thus fortunately escaped 
all annoyance, except that arising from the filthiness 
of his person, and the brutality of his conversation. 
About mid-day we reached Brownsville, a manu- 
facturing town of considerable size, situated on the 
Monangahela, which, by its junction with the Al- 
leghany, near Pittsburg, forms the Ohio. The ap- 



pearance of Brownsville is black and disgusting ; 
its streets are dirty, and unpaved; and the houses 
present none of the externals of opulence. The river 
is a fine one, about the size of the Thames at West- 
minster; and having crossed it, our route lay for 
some miles through a pretty and undulating country. 
At night we reached Wheeling, after a day's journey 
of only thirty miles, accomplished with more diffi- 
culty and inconvenience than we had before experi- 

Being anxious to gain a view of the Ohio, I took 
possession, during the last stage, of a seat beside 
the driver, on the box. Night was closing as we 
gained the summit of the hill, which overhangs the 
town of Wheeling. The river was just visible, with 
its noble volume of waters flowing onward in quiet 
and tranquil grandeur. Before we reached the town, 
it was dark; the sky was moonless, and I was there- 
fore obliged to defer the gratification of my curiosity 
till the following morning. 

I was abroad betimes. Immediately opposite to 
Wheeling, the stream of the Ohio is divided by an 
island of considerable size. Above and below, it is 

THE OHIO. 167 

about the breadth of the Rhine at Mayence. The 
scenery, though very pleasing, could scarcely be 
termed beautiful Steam-boats, of all sizes, were 
ranged along the quays ; and the loud hissing of the 
engines gave notice of numerous preparations for 

The town of Wheeling, dirty and smoke-begrimed, 
could boast of no attraction ; and my English fellow- 
traveller having engaged berths in a steamer, about 
to sail in a few hours for Louisville, our baggage was 
immediately despatched on board. In order to pass 
the time, I then crossed over to the island, and 
spent an hour in examining its scenery. The pro- 
prietor informed me it contained about a hundred 
acres. Some of the timber was magnificent, but 
cultivation had made sad havoc in the natural beau- 
ties of the spot. 

About two o'clock we started on our voyage. Our 
steamer was not a first-rate one, but the accommo- 
dation was good, and lier progress, with the stream 
in her favour, very rapid. For several hours I re- 
mained on deck, gazing on a character of scenery to 
whicli I had seen nothing similar in Europe. The 


river is bounded by a succession of wooded emi- 
nences, sometimes rising from the very margin; 
sometimes receding to a short distance, and leaving 
a narrow plain of fertile land, on which here and 
there a stray settler had established himself. The 
dwellings of such settlers were of the very rudest 
construction, being generally log huts, about equal 
in comfort, I should imagine, to the cabin of an 
Irish peasant. 

The great defect of the scenery of the Ohio is 
want of variety. During the first day I was de- 
lighted, but, on the second, something of the charm 
was gone ; and at length its monotony became almost 
tedious. A thousand miles of any scenery, with one 
definite and unchanging character, will generally be 
found too much. 

In two days we reached Cincinnati, a town of 
nearly thirty thousand inhabitants, finely situated, 
on a slope ascending from the river. The streets 
and buildings are handsome, and certainly far supe- 
rior to what might be expected in a situation six 
hundred miles from the sea, and standing on ground 
which, till lately, was considered the extreme limit 



of civilisation. It is apparently a place of consider- 
able trade. The quay was covered with articles of 
traffic ; and there are a thousand indications of acti- 
vity and business, which strike the senses of a tra- 
veller, but which he would find it difficult to describe. 
Having nothing better to do, I took a stroll about 
the town, and its first favourable impression was not 
diminished by closer inspection. Many of the streets 
and churches would have been considered handsome 
in New York or Philadelphia; and in the private 
dwellings considerable attention had been paid to 
external decoration. 

The most remarkable object in Cincinnati, how- 
ever, is a large Graeco-Moresco-Gothic- Chinese look- 
ing building, — an architectural compilation of pretti- 
nesses of all sorts, the effect of which is eminently 
grotesque. Our attention was immediately arrested 
by this extraordinary apparition, which could scarcely 
have been more out of place had it been tossed on 
the earth by some volcano in the moon. While we 
stood opposite to the edifice, contemplating the gor- 
geousness of its effect, and speculating *' what aspect 
bore the man '* to whom the inhabitants of these cen- 



tral regions could have been indebted for so brilliant 
and fantastic an outrage on all acknowledged prin- 
ciples of taste, a very pretty and pleasant-looking 
girl, came out, and invited us to enter. We accord- 
ingly did so, and found every thing in the interior 
of the building had been finished on a scale quite in 
harmony with its external magnificence. Below, 
was a saloon of very spacious dimensions, which our 
fair conductress informed us had been intended for 
a bazaar. Above, were ball and supper apartments, 
with retiring rooms for the ladies, duly supplied 
with mirrors and toilet tables. Nothing, in short, 
was wanting, which could in any way contribute to 
splendour, elegance, or comfort. 

All this excited our curiosity, for in truth it 
seemed as if the projector of this singular edifice had 
intended by its erection to contribute rather to the 
speculative and contingent wants of some future 
generation, than to minister to the present necessi- 
ties of the prudent and hard-working Cincinnatians. 
We found our guide as communicative as could be 
desired. She informed us that the building had been 
erected by an English lady of the name of Trollope, 


who, induced by pleasure or business, had some years 
before taken up her residence in Cincinnati; that 
the experiment of a bazaar had been tried and fail- 
ed ; that the lower saloon was now altogether unoc- 
cupied, except on the 4th of July, when it witnessed 
the usual scene of festive celebration ; that the sober 
Cincinnatians had always been content with two 
balls in the year, and would by no means consent to 
increase their annual modicum of dancing ; in short, 
that the whole speculation had turned out a decided 
failure, and it was in contemplation of the fair pro- 
prietrix to convert it into a church. 

I had then never heard of Mrs Trollope ; but at 
New York I had afterwards the pleasure of be- 
coming acquainted with her, and can bear testimony 
to her conversation being imbued with all that grace, 
spirit, and vivacity, which have since delighted the 
world in her writings. How far Mrs Troll ope' s 
volumes present a just picture of American society 
it is not for me to decide, though I can offer willing 
testimony to the general fidelity of her descriptions. 
But her claims to the gratitude of the Cincinnatians 
are undoubtedly very great. Her architectural talent 


has beautified their city ; her literary powers have 
given it celebrity. For nearly thirty years Cincin- 
nati had gradually been increasing in opulence, and 
enjoying a vulgar and obscure prosperity. Corn 
had grown, and hogs had fattened ; men had built 
houses, and women borne children ; but in all 
the higher senses of urbane existence, Cincinnati 
was a nonentity. It was " unknown, unhonoured, 
and unsung." Ears polite had never heard of it. 
There was not the glimmering of a chance that it 
would be mentioned twice in a twelvemonth, even 
on the Liverpool Exchange. But Mrs Trollope came, 
and a zone of light has ever since encircled Cincin- 
nati. Its inhabitants are no longer a race unknown 
to fame. Their manners, habits, virtues, tastes, 
vices, and pursuits, are familiar to all the world ; 
but, strange to say, the market-place of Cincinnati 
is yet unadorned by the statue of the great benefac- 
tress of the city ! Has gratitude utterly departed 
from the earth ? 

These western regions are undoubtedly the chosen 
abode of plenty. Provisions are so cheap that no one 
ever seems to dream of economy. Three times a- day 


was the table in the steam- boat literally covered with 
dishes, wedged together as closely as a battalion of in- 
fantry in solid square. Though the passengers were 
only about twenty in number, there was always 
dinner enough for a hundred. Joints, turkeys, hams, 
chops, and steaks, lay spread before us in most 
admired confusion. Brandy bottles were located at 
judicious intervals; and porter was to be had on 
paying for it. I had asked for wine, but in vain ; 
so, being at the luxurious city of Cincinnati, and 
tolerably tired of the poison called brandy, I sent 
for a bottle of Champagne from the inn. The 
bottle came, but on being opened, the contents were 
much more like sour cider than Champagne. In 
short, the stuff was decidedly too bad for drinking, 
and was accordingly pushed aside. But the appear- 
ance of this anomalous-looking flask evidently cau- 
sed some commotion among the passengers. The 
wine was probably one which few of them had 
tasted, and many were evidently determined to seize 
the earliest opportunity of enlarging their expe- 
rience. " I should like a glass of your wine, sir, if 
you have no objections," said my old enemy the Vir- 


ginian doctor. I immediately pushed the bottle to 
him, and he filled his tumbler to the brim. Obser- 
ving this, the persons about him, without ceremony 
of any kind, seized the bottle, and its contents in- 
continently disappeared. 

In regard to the passengers, truth compels me to 
say, that any thing so disgusting in human shape I 
had never seen. Their morals and their manners 
were alike detestable. A cold and callous selfishness, 
a disregard of all the decencies of society, were so 
apparent in feature, word, and action, that I found 
it impossible not to wish that their catalogue of sins 
had been enlarged by one more — hypocrisy Of 
hypocrisy, however, they were not guilty. The 
conversation in the cabin was interlarded with the 
vilest blasphemy, not uttered in a state of mental 
excitement, but with a coolness and deliberation 
truly fiend-like. There was a Baptist clergyman on 
board, but his presence did not seem to operate as 
a restraint. The scene of drinking and gambling 
had no intermission. It continued day and night. 
The captain of the vessel, so far from discouraging 
either vice, was one of the most flagrant offenders in 


both. He was decidedly the greatest gambler on 
board ; and was often so drunk as to be utterly 
incapable of taking command of the vessel. There 
were a few female passengers, but with their pre- 
sence we were only honoured at meals. At all 
other times, they prudently confined themselves to 
their own cabin. 

One circumstance may be mentioned, which is 
tolerably illustrative of the general habits of the 
people. In every steam-boat there is a public comb 
and hair-brush suspended by a string from the 
ceiling of the cabin. These utensils are used by the 
whole body of the passengers, and their condition, 
the pen of Swift could alone adequately describe. 
There is no tooth-brush, simply, I believe, because 
the article is entirely unknown to the American 
toilet. A common towel, however, passes from hand 
to hand, and suffices for the perfunctory ablutions 
of the whole party on board. It was often with great 
difficulty that I procured the exclusive usufruct of 
one, and it was evident that the demand was not 
only unusual but disagreeable. 

One day at dinner, my English fellow-traveller, 


who had resided many years in the United States, 
enquired whether I observed an ivory hilt pro- 
truded from beneath the waistcoat of a gentleman 
opposite. I answered in the affirmative, and he then 
informed me that the whole population of the South- 
ern and Western States are uniformly armed with 
daggers. On my expressing some doubt of this singu- 
lar fact, he pointed to a number of sticks collected 
in one corner of the cabin, and offered a wager that 
every one of these contained either a dagger or a 
sword. I took the bet, and lost it ; and my subse- 
quent observations confirmed the truth of his asser- 
tion in every particular. Even in travelling in the 
State of New York, I afterwards observed that a 
great number of the passengers in stage-coaches and 
canal boats were armed with this unmanly and 
assassin-like weapon. 

It is the fashion in the United States to ask a 
foreigner whether he does not admire the extraordi- 
nary respect and deference which the people pay to 
the law. It is pretty evident, however, from the cir- 
cumstances I have mentioned, that whatever respect 
each individual may pay to the law in his own per- 


son, he has no great confidence in a similar demon- 
stration on the part of his neighbour. 

We left Cincinnati about two o'clock, and betimes 
on the following morning were at Louisville, in 
Kentucky. The scenery of the river continued un- 
changed. I was particularly struck with the vast 
masses of drift-wood carried dovm by the stream. 
Trees, of the most gigantic dimensions, seemed to have 
been uprooted by the floods from the spot in which 
they had stood for centuries. The great quantity of 
this driftwood occasions some danger ; for the pad- 
dles, by striking it, are apt to break, and there is 
always a man on the look-out to report any apparent 
risk of contact. 

At Louisville, the vessel terminated her voyage. 
It is a place of greater trade, I believe, than Cincin- 
nati, though with scarcely half the population. Being 
tired of steam-boat living, we breakfasted at the inn. 
We were at .first ushered into the bar, already 
crowded with about a hundred people, all assembled 
with the same object as ourselves. At length the 
bell sounded, and the crowd rushed up stairs to the 
breakfast-room as if famine-stricken. The meal was 


coarse and bad. The bread was made with grease? 
and a sight of the dressed dishes was enough. Im- 
mediately opposite was a cold fowl, to which I 
requested a gentleman to help me. He deliberately 
cut out the whole body for himself, and then handed 
across the dish with the drumsticks. 

After breakfast, we went over all the New Orleans 
vessels, but could find none about to sail, sooner 
than the following day at noon. My companion and 
myself accordingly took places in the Huntress, and, 
for fifty dollars, I had the good fortune to secure a 
separate cabin for myself and servant. This was of 
some consequence ; because, in these regions, no 
white man can appear without disgrace in the capa- 
city of servant to another. I was therefore obliged, 
at Wheeling, to desire mine to designate himself as 
my clerk or secretary ; and in cleaning my clothes, 
he generally ensconced himself behind a curtain. On 
the present occasion, with the promise of this accom- 
modation, I was content to put up with a very infe- 
rior vessel to many others then at Louisville. 

Within forty miles of Louisville, is the residence 
of Mr Clay, and I had entered Kentucky with the 

MR CLAY. 179 

intention of visiting that eminent person, who is 
considered equally remarkable for his powers as a 
statesman and a companion. I learned, however, at 
Louisville, that Mr Clay was then at New Orleans, 
but expected to leave that city in the course of the 
following week. As I was particularly anxious to 
become acquainted with the great rival of the pre- 
sent President, I determined on giving up all idea of 
a tour in Kentucky, and pushing on to New Orleans 
with the least possible delay. This decision was 
unfortunate, for it prevented my becoming acquainted 
with a very interesting State, and availing myself of 
several hospitable invitations I had received in New 
York and Washington. I found, too, on my arrival at 
New Orleans, that Mr Clay had taken his departure, 
BO that the only effect of my arrangements was a 
double disappointment. 

The Kentuckians may be called the Irish of Ame- 
rica. They have all that levity of character, that 
subjection of the moral to the convivial, that buoy- 
ancy of spirit, that jocular ferocity, that ardour, 
both of attachment and of hatred, which distinguish 
the natives of the Emerald Isle, The Kentuckians 


are the only Americans who can understand a joke. 
There is a kind of native humour about them which 
is very pleasant ; and, I must say, that several Ken- 
tucky gentlemen were among the most agreeable 
companions, with whom I had the good fortune to 
become acquainted during my tour. 

About a mile below Louisville are the falls, or 
rather rapids, of the Ohio, which, when the river is 
low, offer a formidable obstruction to the naviga- 
tion. In order to avoid them, a canal has been con- 
structed near a place called Shipping-port. The 
work was one of some difficulty, and has been exe- 
cuted in the most expensive manner. Owing to 
the quantities of sediment which the river carries 
into it when in flood, I was sorry to learn that this 
fine work is considered likely to prove a failure. 
As the canal is only to be used, however, when the 
river is low, and consequently free from impurity, 
I cannot but think that, by the addition of floodgates, 
the evil might be easily remedied. 

The New Orleans steam-boats are a very different 
description of vessels to any I had yet seen. They 
are of' great size, and the object being to carry as 


large a cargo as possible, the whole vessel, properly 
so called, is devoted to this purpose, and the cabins 
for the passengers are raised in successive tiers above 
the main deck. The lower of these cabins is appro- 
priated to the gentlemen. It is generally spacious, 
and very handsomely fitted up. Three of its sides 
are surrounded by a gallery and veranda. Over this 
is the ladies' cabin, equally handsome, though smaller. 
On the roof of the ladies' cabin is a deck on which 
the passengers may amuse themselves as they think 
proper. Near the forecastle, at the same elevation, 
is the place for the steerage passengers. These ves- 
sels have very much the appearance of three-deckers, 
and many of them are upwards of 500 tons burden. 
Their engines are generally constructed on the high 
pressure principle, and one or two generally blow up 
every season, sending a score or two of parboiled 
passengers to an inconvenient altitude in the atmos- 

On the day following we commenced our voyage, 
of 1500 miles, to New Orleans. The weather was 
delightful, and I now enjoyed the privilege of read- 
ing and writing undisturbed in my cabin. The 


passengers, though coarse as heart could desire, were 
at least less openly and obtrusively profligate than 
those I have already described. There was the same 
scene of gambling and drinking, but I was now able 
to remove from the din and the blasphemy. 

After leaving Louisville, we were nearly three 
days in reaching the point of junction between the 
Mississippi and Ohio. The latter river receives the 
waters of several large tributaries, the Tenessee, the 
Cumberland, the Wabash, &c., by which its magni- 
tude is prodigiously increased. We skirted the new 
and flourishing states of Indiana and Illinois, which 
I did not visit. With their facilities, agricultural 
and commercial, their advantages and disadvantages, 
their soil, their climate, their productions, the pub- 
lic have already been made familiar by writers far 
better qualified to afibrd instruction on such matters 
than I pretend to be. 

To a traveller, whose leading objects are connect- 
ed with the structure of society, there is little in a 
scantily peopled territory to excite speculation. He 
that has seen one settler in the backwoods has seen 
a thousand. Those whom the love of lucre, and con- 


sciousness of independence, have induced to seek the 
recesses of the forest, who gaze daily on the same 
aspect of nature, who endure the same privations, 
encounter the same difficulties, and struggle by the 
same means, for the same ultimate reward, can pre- 
sent but one aspect of human character, and that far 
from the most interesting. With individuals so 
situated, indeed, I was necessarily, in different por- 
tions of my journey, brought into frequent contact. 
But I never voluntarily sought them, for I was 
chiefly anxious to contemplate men in their social 
and more extended relations, and to observe the in- 
fluences, moral and political, by which the national 
character had been formed or modified. My steps, 
therefore, were directed to the city, not to the soli- 
tary shantee ; to the haunts of large masses of men, 
rather than to those of isolated adventurers, who 
have yet to dispute the dominion of the forest with 
the bear and the panther. 

On the second morning after our departure from 
Louisville, a change in the general character of the 
river seemed to indicate that we were rapidly ap- 
proaching the Mississippi. For about fifty miles 


before the point of union, the surrounding scenery 
is flat, and the breadth of the Ohio is more than 
doubled, as if, from a feeling of rivalry, the river 
god had expanded his waters to the utmost. On 
the present occasion, the Ohio had the advantage of 
being very full from the melting of the snows along 
the whole line of its course, while the Mississippi, 
descending from higher latitudes, had experienced 
no such augmentation. 

For hours I was on the tiptoe of expectation to 
catch the first glimpse of " the father of rivers," and 
with this view, had taken up a station on the highest 
pinnacle of the forecastle. At length, when yet 
about five miles distant, the Mississippi, sailing 
along in dark and solemn grandeur, became dis- 
tinctly ^dsible. Both rivers were about two miles 
broad, but the expanse of the Ohio struck me as 
being somewhat larger than that of its more power- 
ful rival. I do not remember any occasion on which 
my imagination was more excited. I felt, in part- 
ing with the Ohio, as if I had done injustice to its 
attractions. True, it presents but one phasis of 
beauty, but that is of the noblest character. For a 


distance of nine hundred miles I had beheld it roll 
its clear waters, smoothly and peacefully, and I 
now, almost with a feeling of regret, bade it fare- 

The Huntress kept on her way rejoicing. We 
passed the small settlement of Cairo, standing on 
an isthmus between the two rivers, and in a few 
minutes beheld ourselves borne on the most majestic 
tribute of waters which Earth pays to Ocean. 

It certainly appears strange that the Mississippi, 
after absorbing the Ohio, presents no visible aug- 
mentation of its volume. Below the point of junc- 
tion, the river is not broader than the Ohio alone. 
Though flowing in the same channel, the streams 
are not mingled. For many miles there is a dis- 
tinct line of demarcation between the waters of the 
two rivers. Those of the Ohio are clear, while the 
stream of the Mississippi is ever dark and turbid. 
When the Mississippi is in flood, it almost dams up 
the Ohio, and suffers it to occupy but a small portion 
of the common channel. But in other circumstances 
the case is different, and the Ohio constitutes, in 
parliamentary phrase, a very respectable minority. 



After quitting la belle riviere^ as the French 
first designated the Ohio, one feels as if he had made 
an exchange for the worse. The scenery of the 
Mississippi is even less varied than that of the 
Ohio. It is almost uniformly flat, though in the 
course of twelve hundred miles a few bluffs and 
eminences do certainly occur. The wood grows 
down to the very margin of the river, and the tim- 
ber, for some hundred miles, is by no means re- 
markable for size. As the river descends to the 
southward, however, it is of finer growth ; and about 
latitude 36°, vegetation becomes marked by a degree 
of rankness and luxuriance which I have never seen 
equalled anywhere else. 

The American forests are generally remarkable for 
the entire absence of underwood, so that they are 
easily penetrable by a foot traveller, and generally 
even by a mounted one. But in the neighbourhood 
of the Mississippi there is almost uniformly a thick 
undergrowth of cane, varying in height from four 
or five to about twenty feet, according to the rich- 
ness of the soil. Through this thicket of cane I 
should think it quite impossible to penetrate, yet I 


have been assured the Indians do so for leagues 
together, though by what means they contrive to 
guide their course, where vision is manifestly im- 
possible, it is not easy to understand. 

The steam-boats stop twice a-day to take in a sup* 
ply of wood for the engine. These vessels have be- 
come so numerous that a considerable number of 
settlers make it their business to supply them, and 
thus turn their labour to better account than would 
be found in the cultivation of the soil. But the cli- 
mate is deadly and pestilential ; they are worn and 
sallow ; and those with whom I spoke seemed to 
regard fevers as things of course. Medicine they 
have none ; and when one's eyes rested on the miser^ 
able and pallid children, and their haggard mother, 
it was impossible not to feel compassion for these 
forlorn outcasts. 

Outcasts they literally are. Many have fled for 
crimes, to a region where the arm of the law cannot 
reach them. Others are men of broken characters, 
hopes, and fortunes, who fly not from justice, but 
contempt. One man told me it was so. He had 
known better days. Men blamed him when he be- 


came poor. He withdrew his poverty from their 
sight, and came to labour amid the untrodden forests 
of the Mississippi. The man had been handsome, 
and still bore about him something of dignity. His 
manners were remarkably pleasing ; but my fellow- 
passengers assured me that he was one who could 
stab while he smiled. I certainly should not much 
have fancied encroaching on the hospitality of his 
solitary shantee. 

These settlers are called Squatters. They locate 
where they please, without troubling themselves 
about any title to the land they occupy. Should a 
rival in the business of wood-cutting choose to take 
up his residence inconveniently near, the rifle settles 
the dispute. One or other becomes food for the vul- 
tures, and the market continues uninjured by com- 

During the whole course of the voyage, we daily 
passed numbers of large arks or rafts, consisting of 
rough timbers, nailed together in the shape of a 
square box, in which the poorer proprietors of the 
upper country send down the produce of their land 
to New Orleans. These vessels were often with- 



out sails of any kind, and the only skill neces- 
sary in the navigation was to keep in the middle of 
the stream. Time was, and that not far distant, 
wlien these rafts constituted almost the only vehicles 
for conveying produce to the place of embarkation. 
In those days, a voyage to Louisville and back occu- 
pied about nine months, and by means of steam it 
can now be performed in little more than a fortnight. 
The application of steam navigation to the purposes 
of commerce has indeed given a mighty impulse to 
the prosperity of the central States. In the niches 
next to Mrs Trollope, the Cincinnatians should 
place statues of Fulton and James Watt. To the 
first they owe celebrity ; to the two last, a market 
for their bacon and flour. 

Time passed on board of the steam-boat, if not 
pleasantly, at least tranquilly. True, there was 
gambling and drinking, and wrangling and swear- 
ing ; true, there was an utter disregard of all the 
decent courtesies of society : but to these things I had 
gradually become accustomed ; for as they hourly 
and almost minutely " overcame us like a summer's 
cloud," they were no longer regarded with " spe- 


cial wonder." But there were some things to which 
I had not become accustomed, and one of these was 
slavery ; and another, eating and drinking and hold- 
ing communion with a slave-dealer. 

Unfortunately, the man generally occupied the 
place next to me at dinner; and, strange to say, 
with the soul of a brute, I remarked that he per- 
formed all the functions of an ordinary American. 
He ate, he drank, he voided profusion of tobacco 
juice, he swallowed brandy every half hour of the 
day, and passed three-fourths, both of day and night, 
in gambling. His poor gang of slaves were above 
stairs, the men loaded with heavy chains, and 
the women with scarcely rags enough to serve the 
purposes of decency. I spoke occasionally to both, 
and the women were certainly the more intelligent. 
They seemed to take pride in the largeness of the 
prices they had formerly brought in the market ; 
and one, with a look of dignity, told me her master 
had refused three hundred dollars for her. Who, after 
this, shall presume to say, that vanity is not an in- 
herent attribute of woman ? 

The men were in a state at once wretched and 


disgusting. Their chains prevented their perform- 
ing the ordinary functions of cleanliness, and their 
skin had become covered with a sort of scaly erup- 
tion. But I will not enlarge on a subject so revolt- 
ing. I remember, however, that no one on board 
talked about freedom so loudly or so long as this 
slav^e-dealer. He at length left us, and the sky 
seemed brighter, and the earth greener, after his 

It has been the fashion with travellers to talk of 
the scenery of the Mississippi as wanting grandeur 
and beauty. Most certainly it has neither. But 
there is no scenery on earth more striking. The 
dreary and pestilential solitudes, untrodden save by 
the foot of the Indian ; the absence of all living 
objects, save the huge alligators which float past, 
apparently asleep, on the drift-wood ; and an occa- 
sional vultiu*e, attracted by its impure prey on the 
surface of the waters ; the trees, with a long and 
hideous drapery of pendent moss, fluttering in the 
wind ; and the giant river rolling onward the vast 
volume of its dark and turbid watei-s through the 
wilderness, form the features of one of the most 


dismal and impressive landscapes on which the eye 
of man ever rested. 

If any man think proper to believe that such 
objects are not, in themselves, sufficient, I beg only to 
say that I differ with him in point of taste. Rocks 
and mountains are fine things undoubtedly, but they 
could add nothing of sublimity to the Mississippi. 
Pelion might be piled on Ossa, Alps on Andes, and 
still, to the heart and perceptions of the spectator, 
the Mississippi would be alone. It can brook no rival, 
and it finds none. No river in the world drains so 
large a portion of the earth's surface. It is the tra- 
veller of five thousand miles, more than two-thirds 
of the diameter of the globe. The imagination asks, 
whence come its waters, and whither tend they ? 
They come from the distant regions of a vast conti- 
nent, where the foot of civilized man has never yet 
been planted. They flow into an ocean yet vaster, 
the whole body of which acknowledges their in- 
fluence. Through what varieties of climate have 
they passed ? On what scenes of lonely and sublime 
magnificence have they gazed? Have they penetrated 

" The hoary forests, still the Bison's screen, 
Where stalked the Mammoth to his shaggy lair, 


Through paths and alleys, roof'd with sombre green. 

Thousands of years before the silent air 
Was pierc'd by whizzing shaft of hunter keen ? '* 

In shorty when the traveller lias asked and answered 
these questions, and a thousand others, it will be 
time enough to consider how far the scenery of the 
Mssissippi would be improved by the presence of 
rocks and mountains. He may then be led to 
doubt whether any great effect can be produced by 
a combination of objects of discordant character, 
however grand in themselves. The imagination is 
perhaps susceptible but of a single powerful impres- 
sion at a time. Sublimity is uniformly connected 
with unity of object. Beauty may be produced by 
the happy adaptation of a multitude of harmonious 
details ; but the highest sublimity of effect can pro- 
ceed but from one glorious and paramount object, 
which impresses its own character on every thing 

The prevailing character of the Mississippi is that 
of solemn gloom. I have trodden the passes of Alp 
and Appenine, yet never felt how awful a thing is 



nature, till I was Korne en its waters, tlnougli re- 
gions desolate and uninhabitable. Day after day, 
and night after night, we continued driving right 
downward to the south ; our vessel, like some huge 
demon of the wilderness, bearing fire in her bosom, 
and canopying the eternal forest with the smoke of 
her nostrils. How looked the hoary ,rivercgod I 
know not; nor what thought the alligators, when 
awakened from their slumber by a vision so astound- 
ing. But the effect on my own spirits was such as 
I have never experienced before or since. Conversa- 
tion became odious, and I passed my time in a sort of 
di'eamy contemplation. At night, I ascended to the 
highest deck, and lay for hours gazing listlessly on 
the sky, the forest, and the waters, amid silence 
only broken by the clanging of the engine. All this 
was very pleasant ; yet till I reached New Orleans, 
I could scarcely have smiled at the best joke in the 
world; and as for raising a laugh — it would have 
been quite as easy to quadrate the circle. 

The navigation of the Mississippi is not unaccom- 
panied by danger. I do not now speak of the risk 


of explosion, wliicli is very considerable, but of a 
peril arising from what are called planters and saio- 
yers. These are trees firmly fixed in the bottom of 
the river, by which vessels are in danger of being 
impaled. The distinction is, that the former stand 
upright in the water, the latter lie with their points 
directed down the stream. We had the bad luck to 
sustain some damage from a planter, whose bead 
being submersed was of course invisible. 

The bends or flexures of the Mississippi are regu- 
lar in a degree unknown in any other river; indeed, 
so much is this the case, that I should conceive it 
quite practicable for a hydrographer to make a to- 
lerably accurate sketch of its course without actual 
survey. The action of running water, in a vast allu- 
vial plain like that of the basin of the Mississippi, 
without obstruction from rock or mountain, may be 
calculated with the utmost preeision. Wlienever the 
course of a river diverges in any degree from a rig] it 
line, it is evident that the current can no longer act 
with equal force on both its banks. On one sido 
the impulse is diminished, on the other increased. 
The tendency in these sinuosities, therefore, is mani- 


festly to increase, and the stream which hollows out 
a portion of one bank being rejected to the other, the 
process of curvature is still continued, till its chan- 
nel presents an almost unvarying succession of salient 
and retiring angles. 

In the Mississippi the flexures are so extremely 
great, that it often happens that the isthmus which 
divides different portions of the river gives way. 
A few months before my visit to the south a re- 
markable case of this kind had happened, by which 
forty miles of navigation had been saved. The 
opening thus formed was called the neio cut ; and it 
was matter of debate between the Captain and pilot 
whether we should not pass through it. 

Even the annual changes which take place in the 
bed of the Mississippi are very remarkable. Islands 
spring up and disappear ; shoals suddenly present 
themselves where pilots have been accustomed to 
deep water ; in many places whole acres are swept 
avray from one bank and added to the other ;^and 
the pilot assured me, that in every voyage he could 
perceive fresh changes . 

Many circumstances contribute to render these 


changes more rapid in the Mississippi than in any- 
other river. Among these, perhaps, the greatest is 
tlie vast volume of its waters, acting on alluvial 
matter, peculiarly penetrable. Tlie river, when iu 
flood, spreads over the neighbouring country, in 
which it has formed channels, called bayous. The 
banks thus become so saturated with water that 
they can oppose little resistance to the action of the 
current, which frequently sweeps off large portions 
of the forest. ^ 

The immense quantity of drift-wood is another 
cause of change. Floating logs encounter some 
obstacle in the river, and become stationary. The 
mass gradually accumulates ; the water, saturated 
with mud, deposits a sediment, and thus an island is 
formed, which soon becomes covered with vegetation. 
About ten years ago the Mississippi was surveyed by 
order of the Government ; and its islands, from the 
confluence of the Missouri to the sea, were num- 
bered. I remember asking the pilot the name of a 
very beautiful island, and the answer was, five hun- 
cked-and-seventy-three, the number assigned to it 
in the hydrographical survey, and the only name by 


vrhicli it was known. But in tlie course of these ten 
years, a vast variety of changes liave taken place, 
and a more accurate chart has become highly desi- 

A traveller on the Mississippi has little to record 
in the Avay of incident. For a week we continued 
our course, stopping only to take in wood, and on one 
occasion to take in cargo, at an inconsiderable place 
called Memphis, which stands on one of the few 
bluffs we encountered in our progress. At length we 
reached Natchez, a town of some importance in the 
State of Mississippi. We only halted there for an 
hour, and the upper town, which stands on a height 
at some distance, I did not see. But the place was 
described by the passengers as being the scene of the 
most open and undisguised profligac3^ All I observed 
in the lower town, certainly gave me no reason to 
doubt the accuracy of the description. Taverns full of 
men and women of the most abandoned habits, dan- 
cing, drinking, and uttering the most obscene lan- 
guage, were open to the street. I was advised not 
to walk to SLiiy distance from the landing place, for 
the risk of being robbed was considerable. I did 


however attempt to reach the upper town, about a 
mile off, but the bell announcmg preparation for 
departure arrested my progress. 

One of the most striking circumstances connected 
with tills river voyage, was the rapid change of 
climate. Barely ten days had elapsed since I was 
traversing mountains almost impassable from snow. 
Even the level country was partially covered with 
it, and the approach of spring had not been her- 
alded by any symptom of vegetation. Yet, in little 
more than a week, I found myself in the region of the 
sugar cane ! 

The progress of this transition was remarkable. 
During the first two days of the voyage, nothing 
like a blossom or a green leaf was to be seen. On 
the third, slight signs of vegetation were visible on a 
few of the hardier trees. These gradually became 
more general as we approached the Mississippi; but 
then, though our coiirse lay almost due south, little 
change was apparent for a day or two. But after pass- 
ing Memphis, in latitude 35'', all nature became alive. 
The trees which grew on any little eminence, or 
which did not spring immediately from the swamp* 


were covered with foliage; and at our wooding times, 
when I ramhled through the woods, there were a 
thousand shrubs already bursting into flower. On 
reaching the lower regions of the Mississippi, all was 
brightness and verdure. Summer had already begun, 
and the heat was even disagreeably intense. 

Shortly after entering Louisiana, the whole wild- 
licss of the Mississippi disappears. The banks are all 
cultivated, and nothing was to be seen but planta- 
tions of sugar, cotton, and rice, with the houses of 
their owners, and the little adjoining hamlets inha- 
bited by the slaves. Here and there were orchards 
of orange-trees, but these occurred too seldom to 
liave much influence on the landscape. 

At Baton Rouge, a fort of some strength, which 
commands the navigation of the river, we dis- 
charged a major and a few private soldiers of the 
United States army, and on the following evening 
I found myself at New Orleans. 




I LANDED at New Orleans on tlie 2 2d of March. 
The clay had been one of heavy rain, and the appear- 
ance of the city was by no means prepossessing. 
The streets, being generally nnpaved, were full of 
mud, and. a dense canopy of mist shed a gloom on 
every thing. 

We had some difficulty in finding accommodation. 
The principal hotel is that of Madame Herries, but 
the house was already fulL We tried three others 
with no better success, and the streets of New 
Orleans are perhaps the last in the world in which 
a gentleman would choose to take up his night's 
lodging. At length the keeper of a boarding-house 
took compassion on our forlorn condition. There 


was an uninhabited house, she said, in an adjoining 
street, in which she thought she could prevail on the 
proprietor to furnish us with apartments, and at 
meals we might join the party in her establishment. 
And so it was arranged. The rooms were bad, 
and wretchedly furnished, but they were quiet, and 
we had an old and ugly female slave to wait on us. 
This woman was in character something like the 
withered hags who are so finely introduced in the 
Bride of Lammermoor. During my stay, I tried 
every means to extract a smile from her, but with- 
out success. I gave her money, but that would not 
do ; and wine, of which on one occasion she drank 
two tumblers, with no better effect. By way of re- 
commending the lodgings, she told me three gentle- 
men had died in them during the last autumn of 
yellow fever. '' Two were Englishmen," she add- 
ed, " and she herself had laid out their corpses on 
that very table ! " In short, though she did not often 
choose to converse, whenever the fit was on her, she 
displayed great tact and discrimination in the selec- 
tion of topics. 


The morning after my arrival was briglit and 
beautiful, and I sallied fortli to 

— — " view the manners of the town, 
Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings, 
And wander up and down to view the city." 

It would b3 absurd to call New Orleans a liandsome 
city. It is not so. The streets are generally nar- 
row, and always filthy ; and with the exception of 
the cathedral, there are no public buildings of any 
magnitude. But in comparison with such cities as 
those to which I had been accustomed in the United 
States, the general aspect of Kew Orleans may [be 
called picturesque. The architecture of the older 
sections of the city is Spanish, and when Louisiana 
came into possession of France, the original taste in 
building seems still to have i)redominated. The 
houses are generally of one story, and the principal 
apartment opens at once on the street. They are 
built of wood, but here and there edifices of greater 
pretension, covered with stucco, and adorned with 
verandas, give something of pleasing variety. 

In this quarter of the city reside the French and 
Spanish portion of the population; that occupied by 


t!ie Anglo-Americans, Las no attraction of any kind. 
The streets are wider, but unpaved; the houses 
larger, but bare and unseemly, and their internal 
superiority of comfort has been gained at the expense 
of external effect. 

The condition of the streets in the greater part of 
'New Orleans, is indeed an absolute nuisance. There 
are brick troffoirs, but the carriage-way is left in a 
state of nature. The consequence is, that after rain 
— and the climate is particularly humid — the centre 
of the street is at least a foot thick of mud, througli 
which, foot-passengers, when desirous of crossing, 
must either wade up to their knees, or set off on a 
wild-goose chase after stepping-stones perhaps a mile 
distant, which may enable them — if they can jump 
like a kangaroo — to get over dry-shod. 

In otlier respects, I must say, New Orleans is not 
an uncomfortable place. The American hotels are 
bad, but there is an admirable French restaurateur, 
whose establishment is conducted in a style far supe- 
rior to any thing I had seen in the United States. 
When not otherwise engaged, I generally dined there, 


either alone, or with a companion, instead of scram- 
bling at the public table of the boarding-house. 

There is an old proverb, " give a dog a bad name 
and hang him." The proverb is as applicable to 
cities as to dogs, and unfortunately New Orleans 
has got a bad name. I have nothing to say which 
can make it any worse, and perhaps not much which 
would induce a very rigid moralist to delay execu- 
tion. But I can bear witness that New Orleans 
contains a very well-bred and hospitable circle, 
where a traveller will meet more easy politeness 
than in most cities of the Union. 

Both the language and manners are French. Few 
of the Creole ladies can speak English, and still 
fewer of the slaves. The latter jabber a sort of 
jmtois unlike any thing I ever heard in France, 
though my intercourse with the French peasantry 
has been tolerably extensive. 

The situation of New Orleans is admirably adapt- 
ed for commerce. It is and must be the great port 
of the south, as New York is of the north and centre 
of the Union. The Western States enjoy a ready 
communication with both ; with the former, by the 


Ohio and Mississippi ; with the latter, by means of 
canals which now connect the Ohio with Lake Erie, 
and Lake Erie with the Hudson. The city stands 
on a bed of allu\iam on the eastern bank of the 
Mississippi, about a hundred and twenty miles from 
the sea. Its population is about fifty thousand, and 
the number of slaves is very great. 

I fear the standard of morals in New Orleans can- 
not be rated very high. Yet in no city are the 
externals of decorum more rigidly maintained. The 
eye is never shocked by any public display of inde- 
cency ; and the coloured women, whatever may be 
their laxity of principle, are careful to maintain 
at least the outward semblance of virtue. I had 
heard a great deal of the beauty of these persons, but 
cannot profess having been at all smitten with their 
charms. One often meets a fine figure among them, 
but rarely a fine countenance. The skin is dingy, 
and the features are coarse. Something of the negro 
always remains — the long heel— the woolly hair — 
the flat nose — the thick lips — or the peculiar form 
of the head. 

The Creole ladies, on the other hand, certainly 


struck me as handsome. They too are dark, but 
then* complexion is clear not clouded, like that of 
the Quadroons. Their figure is light and graceful, 
and with fine teeth, and an eye, large, dark, and 
bright, they must be admitted to possess quite as 
much attraction as the New Orleans gentlemen 
deserve. The effects of this enervating climate 
however are visible enough. The Creole ladies speak 
with a sort of languid drawl ; their motions want 
energy and briskness, and the efficacy of their 
charms might perhaps be increased by a little more 

During my stay at New Orleans the legislature 
was in session, and I occasionally visited both 
houses. The mode of proceeding struck me as curi- 
ous. The Creoles speak French, and the Americans 
English, neither understanding the language of the 
other. Whenever a speech is concluded, an inter- 
preter gives as perfect a version of it as his memory 
can command. The time thus lost is enormous 
under any circumstances, but when the debate 
becomes personal, it has at least the advantage of 
giving members time to cool. 


On one occasion, however, the discussion was 
conducted with a good deal of acrimony, and the 
scene became ludicrous enough. A French gentle- 
man, when I entered the house, was delivering an 
energetic oration, impugning both the conduct and 
motives of an American. The latter during the 
whole time remained apparently in happy ignorance, 
both of the nature and extent of the punishment of 
which he was the object. 

At length the honourable gentleman sat down, 
and the chief heads of his speech and arguments were 
detailed in English by the interpreter. The Ameri- 
can then became, as they say in Scotland, " neither 
to hold nor to bind." He instantly commenced not 
only a vehement defence of himself, but an attack 
on his opponent, in a language of which the latter 
seemed to understand precisely as much as he did of 
Sanscrit. In short, I know of no body to whom 
the gift of tongues could be so useful as the legisla- 
ture of Louisiana. 

There is a French and an English theatre in New 
Orleans. The former is tenanted by a very tole- 
rable set of comedians, who play musical pieces and 


"^^audevilles with a great deal of spirit. The com- 
pany of the English theatre was altogether wretched. 
I saw Damon and Pythias represented to a full 
liouse. Damon was so drunk that he could scarcely 
stand, and Pythias displayed his friendship in assist- 
ing him off the stage. 

As in most Catholic countries, Sunday is the 
great day for amusements of every kind. The shops 
are open ; the market displays unusual attractions, 
and the sounds of merriment and music are heard in 
every street. In the morning, three-fourths of the 
population run to hear mass, and the cathedral is 
crowded hy people of all colours, in their best and 
gayest attire. In a European city the cathedral 
would prohahly pass without notice. In New Oi*- 
leans it is a prominent object. As a building, it is 
full of inconsistencies, and the interior presents no- 
thing to arrest the attention. T^ie decorations of the 
altars are gewgaw enough, and there is no sculpture.' 
Both Catholic and Protestant agree in the tenet that 
all men are equal in the sight of God, but the former 
aloi^e gives practical exemplification of his creed. In 
a Catholic church the prince and the peasant, the 

VOL, II. c 


slave and his master, kneel before the same altar, in 
temporary oblivion of all worldly distinctions. They 
come there but in one character, that of sinners ; and 
no rank is felt or acknowledged but that connected 
with the offices of religion. Within these sacred 
precincts the vanity of the rich man receives no in- 
cense ; the proud are not flattered, the humble are 
not abashed. Tlie stamp of degradation is oblite- 
rated from the forehead of the slave, when he beholds 
himself admitted to community of worship with the 
highest and noblest in the land. 

But in Protestant churches a different rule pre- 
vails. People of colour are either excluded alto- 
gether, or are mewed up in some remote corner, 
separated by barriers from the body of the church. 
It is impossible to forget their degraded condition 
even for a moment. It is brought home to their 
feelings in a thousand ways. No white Protestant 
would kneel at the same altar with a black one. He 
asserts his superiority everywhere, and the very hue 
of his religion is affected by the colour of his skin. 

From the hands of the Catholic priest, the poor 
slave receives all the consolations of religion. He is 


visited in sickness, and consoled in affliction; Lis 
dying lips receive the consecrated wafer; and in the 
very death-agony, the last voice that meets his ear 
is that of his priest uttering the suhlime words, 
^* Depart, Christian soul." Can it he wondered, 
therefore, that the slaves in Louisiana are all Ca- 
tholics; that while the congregation of the Protestant 
church consists of a few ladies, arranged in well- 
cushioned pews, the whole floor of the extensive 
cathedral should he crowded with worshippers of all 
colours and classes ? 

From all I could learn, the zeal of the Catholic 
priests is highly exemplary. They never forget that 
the most degraded of human forms is animated by a 
soul, as precious in the eye of religion, as that of the 
sovereign Pontiff. The arms of the church are 
never closed against the meanest outcast of society. 
Divesting themselves of all pride of caste, they 
mingle with the slaves, and certainly understand 
their character far better than any other body of re- 
ligious teachers. I am not a Catholic, but I cannot 
suffer prejudice of any sort to prevent my doing 
justice to a body of Christian ministers, whose zeal 


can be animated by no hope of worldly reward, and 
whose humble lives are passed in diffusing the influ- 
ence of divine truth, and communicating to the 
meanest and most despised of mankind the blessed 
comforts of religion. These men publish no perio- 
dical enumeration of their converts. The amount, 
and the success of their silent labours, is not illus- 
trated in the blazon of missionary societiesj nor are 
they rhetorically set forth in the annual speeches of 
Lord Roden or Lord Bexley. And yet we may 
surely assert, that not the least of these labours is 
forgotten. Their record is, where their reward will 

New Orleans and yellow fever are as inseparably 
fconnected as ham and chicken, and the writer who 
records his impressions of the one, is expected to say 
something of the other. I believe at no season of the 
year is New Orleans a healthy place of residence. 
The exhalations from the Mississippi, and the vast 
swamps by which it is surrounded, taint the atmo- 
sphere continually, and the variation at different sea- 
sons is only in degree. Even in March the air of 
New Orleans is manifestly unhealthy. It is some- 


times so tliick and impregnated with vapour, that 
the lungs play with difficulty, and the effect of such 
weather on the animal economy is very perceptible. 
The skin is clammy even in repose, and the slight- 
est exertion brings on profuse perspiration. For 
myself, I could not walk a quarter of a mile without 
feeling a degree of lassitude to which I had never 
been accustomed. The resource under such circum- 
stances is generous diet and a sofa, but the only 
absolute cure is a brisk north-wester, which, by 
clearing off the impurities of the atmosphere, at 
once restores the patient to his natural functions. 

It is not, however, till the heats of summer are 
considerably advanced, that the yellow fever appears 
in its terrors. It comes in silence, and steals, as it 
were, unawares into the city. The sky is bright, and 
the weather beautiful. The city is reported healthy, 
and business and pleasure proceed with accelerated 
impulse. In such circumstances, a report probably 
spreads, that a sailor on board of one of the vessels 
at the river, has been stricken with this fearful ma- 
lady. On the following day, the rumour of fresh 
cases becomes prevalent, but the inhabitants com- 


fort themselves that these have been exclusively con- 
fined to the shipping. Even of this consolation, how- 
ever, they are shortly deprived. The disease appears 
simultaneously in various quarters of the city, 
through which it stalks like a destroying angel, 
spreading havoc and desolation. 

The Creoles are entirely exempt from its ravages. 
The chief victims are Europeans, and natives of the 
Northern States. Of these, not one in twenty escapes 
attack ; and of those attacked, not above two- 
thirds survive. The latter are then considered to be 
what is called " acclimated," and are not liable to a 
recurrence of the disease, unless their constitution 
be again changed by a residence in a colder climate. 

One of the curiosities which all strangers should 
see^ — and which too many of them visit without 
seeing — is the public burying-ground, about half-a- 
mile from the city. It is simply a portion of the 
surrounding swamp, and, though very extensive, is 
not found too large for the wants of the population. 
There are always some twenty or thirty graves, of 
different sizes, kept open on speculation, so that 
there is no doubt of any gentleman, who chooses to 


die ill a hurry, finding accommodation at the short- 
est notice. One acquires from habit a sort of lurk- 
ing prejudice in favour of being burled in dry- 
ground, which is called into full action by a sight of 
this New Orleans cemetery. The spade cannot pene- 
trate even a few inches below the surface, without 
finding water, and considerable difficulty is experi- 
enced in sinking the coffins, since the whole neigh- 
bourhood could not furnish a stone the size of an 

Such a disposal of the dead may more properly 
be termed inundation than interment, and there is 
something so offensive to the imagination in the 
whole process, and in the idea of being devoured by 
the crawfish, which burrow in myriads, that the 
richer people generally prefer being kept above the 
level, both of ground and water, in little buildings 
like ovens, composed of brick and plaster, without 
ornament of any sort. Altogether, those who are 
content to live in New Orleans, may be content to 
be buried there when they die. I confess my own 
inclination prompted me to neither, and I quitted 
the cemetery with the firm resolution of never eat- 


mg another crawfish, with whatever attractions the 
skill of the cook may have invested it. 

There are slave auctions almost every clay in 
the New Orleans Exchange. I was frequently pre- 
sent at these, and the man who wants an excuse for 
misanthropy, will nowhere discover better reason 
for hating and despising his species. The usual 
process differs in nothing from that of selling a horse. 
The poor object of traffic is mounted on a table ; 
intending purchasers examine his points, and put 
questions as to his age, health, &c. The auctioneer 
dilates on his value, enumerates his accomplish- 
ments, and when the hammer at length falls, pro- 
tests, in the usual phrase, that poor Sambo has been 
absolutely thrown away. When a w^oman is sold, he 
usually puts his audience in good humour by a few 
indecent jokes. 

One of the first human beings whom I happened 
to see thus sold Avas a poor woman, apparently dying 
of a consumption. She was emaciated, her voice "was 
husky and feeble, and her proper place was evidently 
the hospital. It w^as with difficulty she was raised 
upon the table. " Now, gentlemen, here is Mary ! '* 


said the auctioneer; " a clever house- servant and an 
excellent cook. Bid me something for this valuable 
lot. She has only one fault, gentlemen, and that is 
shamming sick. She pretends to be ill, but there is 
nothing more the matter with her than there is with 
me at this moment. Put her up, gentlemen, — shall I 
say a hundred dollars to begin with ? Will nobody 
say a hundred dollars for Mary, a clever servant and 
excellent cook? Thank you, sir, fifty — well, fifty 
dollars is bid for her." Here the auctioneer stopped 
for a minute or two, while several men began feel- 
ing the poor woman's ribs, and putting questions as 
to her health. 

" Are you well ? " asked one man.' 

" Oh, no, I am very ill." 

" What is the matter with you?" 

" I have a bad cough and pain in my side." 

" How long have you had it ?" 

" Three months and more." 

Here the auctioneer finding such interrogatories 
did not tend to enhance the value of the lot, again 
went on. «* Never mind what she says, gentlemen, 



I told you she was a shammer. Her health is good 
enough. Damn her humbug. Give her a touch or 
two of the cow-hide, and I'll warrant she'll do your 
work. Speak, gentlemen, before I knock her down. 
Seventy dollars only bid, — going, going, going, gone!'* 
The sale concluded amid sundry jests, at the expense 
of the purchaser. " A bloody good lot of skin and 
bone," said one. " I guess that 'ere woman will 
soon be food for the land-crabs," said another ; and 
amid such atrocious merriment the poor dying crea- 
ture was led off. 

If such scenes are acted in a Christian country, it 
is the duty of every traveller to take care at least, 
that they shall not be done in a corner, that they 
shall be proclaimed loudly to the world, and that 
those who perpetrate the enormities shall receive 
their due meed of indignation and contempt. 

The time is past when it was necessary to write 
'v^'hole volumes, in illustration of the evils and in- 
justice of slavery. These are now admitted and 
confessed by every one. They are so great as to 
admit of no exaggeration by eloquence, nor of pal- 



liation or concealment by sophistry. Public opinion 
in England requires no stimulus. 

I feel anxious, that writing on this subject I should 
be clearly understood. It may not be a crime — it 
probably ought not to be charged as one — in the 
American people, that slavery still exists in by far 
the larger portion of the territory of the Union. But 
now when the United States have enjoyed upwards 
of half a century of almost unbroken prosperity, 
when their people, as they themselves declare, are 
the most moral, the most benevolent, the most en- 
lightened in the world, we are surely entitled to de- 
mand, what have this people done for the mitigation 
of slavery ? what have they done to elevate the slave 
in the scale of moral and intellectual being, and to 
prepare him for the enjoyment of those primal eges to 
which, sooner or later, the coloured population must 
be admitted ? 

The answer to these questions unfortunately may 
be comprised in one word — nothing. Nothing du- 
ring all this period has been done to raise the slave 
to the dignity of a rational and responsible being, or 


tc mitigate the horrors of his servitude ; nothing 
for the subversion of ignorant and degrading preju- 
dice ; nothing to remove from themselves and their 
posterity the reproach of a system which withers up 
all the better sympathies of our nature. The voice 
of justice and humanity has been raised in vain ; and 
it may safely be predicted, that while the progress 
of intelligence is confessedly incompatible v. ith sla- 
Axry, its last stronghold will be found, not in Portu- 
gal — not in Turkey or Algiers — ^but in the United 

It is true, indeed, that slavery has been abolished 
in many States of the Union, and that in others re- 
cently established it has never existed. Let the merit 
— whatever be its amount — of an enlightened appre- 
ciation of their own interests, be at once freely con- 
ceded to these States. Still it cannot be denied, that 
slavery has only ceased in those portions of the Union, 
in which it was practically found to be a burden on 
the industry and resources of the country. Wherever 
it was found profitable^ there it has remained; there 
it is to be found at the present day, in all its pris- 
tine and unmitigated ferocity. Where its abolition 


mvolved no sacrifice, slavery has disappeared ; but 
wherever justice was to be done at the expense of 
the pocket, the nuisance, so far from being abated, 
lias gone on increasing, and has become rooted more 
widely and more tleeply in the passions and preju- 
dices of the people. 

I have said that the abolition of slavery in the 
Northern, and some of the Central States, has invol- 
ved no sacrifice. Let me explain this. When Penn- 
sylvania, for instance, abolished slavery, she passed 
an act, that after a certain number of years all the 
slaves within her territory should be manumitted. 
What was the consequence ? Wh}^, that the great 
body of the slaves belonging to Pennsylvanian pro- 
prietors were in the meantime exported and sold in 
other States, and when the day of liberation came, 
those who actually profited by it, were something like 
the patients who visited the pool of Bethesda, — the 
blind, the halt, the maimed, the decrepid, whom it 
really required no great exercise of generosity to 
turn about their business, with an injunction to pro- 
vide thereafter for their own maintenance. 

I admit that the question of the abolition of sla- 


very in tlie United States, is involved in peculiar 
difficulties, nor do I pretend to suggest any project 
by wliich it may be safely, and even remotely effect- 
ed. But there are some crying evils on which im- 
mediate legislation is imperiously demanded. The 
first of these is undoubtedly the slave trade. 

When I speak of the slave trade, I do not allude 
to the importation of slaves from abroad, but to the 
internal traffic which is carried on between the dif- 
ferent States. Some of these, in which the climate 
is healthy, and the cultivation of the soil easy, are 
slave-breeders, not for their own consumption only, 
but for that of others, in which the climate is deadly 
and the labour severe. The cultivation of sugar in 
Louisiana, for instance, is carried on at an enormous 
expense of human life. Planters must buy to keep 
up their stock, and this supply principally comes 
from Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. On 
my return from New Orleans by the coast, I met 
a whole drove of these miserable creatures, chained 
together like felons, and driven on like brute beasts 
by the lash. In God's name let this unhallowed 
traffic be put a stop to. Let not men's eyes be 


shocked by sights so atrocious. Let not one State 
furnish materials for the cruelties of another, and by 
a system of wise legislation let humanity be made 
the interest, as it is the duty, of all. 

It would be difficult to decide whether slavery is 
most to be lamented for the injustice perpetrated 
towards those who are its victims, or for its depra- 
ving influence on the class by whom that injustice 
is inflicted. The question must be decided by nicer 
casuists than I pretend to be. But sure I am that 
the evils of this detestable system cannot be ex- 
aggerated by the most fervid imagination. It 
will scarcely be believed, that in the United States 
it is common for fathers to sell their children, for 
sons to sell their brothers and their sisters ; and that 
atrocities so heinous are unvisited by public indigna- 
tion or contempt. And yet it is so. The smallest 
infusion of negro blood is held to abrogate not only 
the charities of life, but the ties of nature. I will not 
enlarge on this subject. It is too hateful and too odi- 
ous. But in the name of consistency and common 
sense, either let such enormities cease to be perpe- 
trated in the United States, or let the word mo- 


rality be at once erased from the American voca- 

I did intend to have made some observations on 
the savage character of the slave codes of the diffe- 
rent States, but I write for the British public, and 
the task has become unnecessary. Still I would 
earnestly call on every Englishman who has partaken 
in the delusion that the abolition, or even the miti- 
gation of slavery, may be safely trusted to the hu- 
manity of those whose immediate interests are con- 
nected with its continuance, to look to the condi- 
tion of the slaves in the United States. I again 
repeat that I do not charge it as a reproach on the 
inhabitants that slavery should still exist in their 
territory, but I own I do consider it as involving 
Rational disgrace, that during half a century no 
steps have been taken, I will not say for its abo- 
lition, but even for its mitigation. At the present 
hour slavery is seen in the United States decked 
out in every horrible attribute with which the ima- 
gination of man ever inA^ested it. And, after all, it 
is perhaps better for the ultimate interests of huma- 
nity that it should be so. It is better that the front 


ef the image should he of hrass, while its feet are of 
clay. To suppose that slavery can long continue 
in this country when other nations shall have freed 
themselves from the foulest stain which has ever 
polluted their humanity, is to contemplate a period 
when the United States will hecome a nuisance upon 
earth, and an ohject of hatred and derision to the 
whole world. 

It is only fair to state that during the whole course 
of my tour, I never conversed with any American 
on the suhject of slavery without his at once ad- 
mitting the magnitude of the evil. The planters 
uniformly speak of it as a noxious exhalation by which 
their whole atmosphere is poisoned. " Yet what is to 
be done ?" they ask. " You express yourself shocked 
by the existence of slavery ; have you formed any 
plan for its abolition ? Can you see even a glimmer- 
ing of light through the darkness by which this awful 
subject is surrounded? At all events, do not sup- 
pose that we maintain slavery in our territory from 
choice. Far from it. We regard those States where 
this curse is unknown with envy. We would glad- 
ly become as they are, but cannot. We are slave- 


holders by compulsion alone. As such, let us be 
treated with candour and fairness. If you can sug- 
gest any remedy, we shall be glad to hear it ; if you 
cannot, cease to inveigh against an inevitable evil, 
for which the collective wisdom of mankind has yet 
discovered no care." 

There is much that is reasonable in all this, mixed 
up with a little misrepresentation, and as few men 
travel about with a plan for the abolition of Ameri- 
can slavery, cut and dry in their pocket, it no doubt 
acts in conversation as a convenient stopper on a 
great deal of froth which might otherwise be dis- 
charged on so tempting a subject. But though it 
be unquestionably true that the slave-holders are in 
favour of abolition, it is abolition of a peculiar kind, 
which must be at once cheap and profitable ; which 
shall peril no interest, and offend no prejudice; and 
which, in liberating the slave, shall enrich his master. 
It is needless to say, that the dream of Alnaschar, in 
the Arabian Nights, pictured nothing more vision- 
ary than such an abolition. Let slavery be abolished 
when it will, and how it will, by slow degrees, or 
by one sweeping and decisive measure of emancipa- 


tion, the immediate interests of the planters must he 
injuriously affected. By no process can the injus- 
tice of centuries he repaired without sacrifice; and 
the longer this reparation is delayed, the sacrifice 
demanded will he greater. 

The cessation of slavery must put a stop to the 
cultivation hoth of sugar and rice in the United 
States, and the compulsion of which the planters 
speak is the compulsion of money. Large tracts 
of the Southern States will he thrown out of culti- 
vation. Two-thirds of their population will prohahly 
migrate to the West, since the cultivation of cotton, 
the great staple, must of course he limited by the de- 
mands of the market, which can only receive consi- 
derable increase from improvements in the process 
of manufacture. 

That the United States, as a nation, would be 
prodigiously benefited by the abolition of slavery, 
there can be no doubt; but that the pecuniary inte- 
rests of the planters is decidedly opposed to it, is at 
least equally clear. How long these men can hold 
out against nature, religion, and the common sym- 
pathies of mankind, it is impossible to foresee. 


My own conviction is, that slavery in this country 
can only be eradicated by some great and terrible 
convulsion. The sword is evidently suspended ; it 
will fall at last. 

From New Orleans I made a pleasant excursion 
to a sugar plantation about eight or ten miles dis- 
tant. The road lay along the margin of the river, 
which is prevented from inundating the country by 
embankment. Through this barrier, however, it 
often forces its way, by what are called crevasses, 
or small fissures, generally occasioned, I believe, by 
the burrowing of crawfish or water-rats. These 
fissures, by the pressure of the water, soon become 
formidable outlets ; and the whole country, for miles^. 
is sometimes overflowed to a depth of several feet. 
The Mississippi, too, occasionally overflows its banks 
though not often, I believe, to such extent as to oc- 
casion serious damage to the neighbouring planta- 

The country is in general cultivated to the dis- 
tance of about half a mile from the river, and on 
these rich alluvial bottoms are the sugar plantations. 
That which I visited, though not one of the largest. 


was extensive. The family were of French origin, 
and few of its members could speak English. The 
proprietor took me over the sugar works, and I 
looked in to the huts of Ids negroes who were then 
in llie field. He gave me full details of the whole 
process of sugar cultivation, which he confessed was 
only carried on at an appalling sacrifice of life. At 
the season when the canes are cut and the boilers at 
work, the slaves are compelled to undergo incessant 
labour for about six weeks. The fatigue is so great 
that nothing but the severest application of the lash 
can stimulate the human frame to endure it, and the 
sugar season is uniformly followed by a great increase 
of mortality among the slaves. 

The climate of Louisiana is not happily adapted 
for sugar cultivation. It is too variable, and frosts 
often come on in November which destroy the whole 
saccharine matter of the canes. This had happened 
the season before my visit, and I saw the canes of 
nearly half the estate rotting on the ground. The 
crop in Louisiana is never considered safe till 
it is in the mill, and the consequence is, that when 
cutting once begins, the slaves are taxed beyond 


their strength, and are goaded to labour until na- 
ture absolutely sinks under tlie effort. 

The poverty of the planters, too, generally prevents 
there being a sufficient stock of slaves on the estates ; 
and where a plantation which requires two hundred 
and fifty slaves, is cultivated only by two hundred, 
it is very evident that the necessary work will not 
only be done worse, but that it will be done at a 
greatly increased expenditure of human life. Thus 
the tendency of the slave population in Louisiana 
is to diminish, and, but for importations from the 
northern slave States, would, under the present sys- 
tem, become extinct. 

I passed a day and night with my hospitable en- 
tertainers, to whose kindness I felt much indebted. 
It is the fashion in this country to appoint a servant 
to attend upon the guests. When I retired for the 
night, I observed a very nice-looking black boy, 
who, after setting down my candle and adjusting 
the pillows of the bed, still remained standing right 
opposite to me when I began to undress. I bade 
him good-night, but he still showed no inclination 
to move. I then asked why he remained, and 


gathered from his reply that it is by no means usual 
in this country for a white person to perform any 
office for himself which can be performed by de- 
puty. The boy said he thought I should like some 
one to assist me to undress, but I assured him I had 
no occasion for his services in any capacity except 
that of brushing my clothes in the morning. He 
then took leave, though evidently not without 
some surprise that a white gentleman should, under 
any circumstances, condescend to pull off his own 
stockings, and put on his nightcap. It must certainly 
be ranked among the minor evils of slavery, that it 
destroys all personal independence, and attaches 
something of disgrace to the discharge of the most 
ordinary functions. 

Before quitting New Orleans I made a trip to 
visit the Delta of the Mississippi, in one of the 
steamers employed in towing vessels to and from 
the mouth of the river. Though with three large 
vessels attached, our bark made good way under 
the co-operative influences of steam and stream. 
About seven miles below the city is the field of battle. 
It is a plain about half a mile in breadth, bounded 


by the Mississippi on one side, and the forest on the 
other. Below is a hend of the river, which, from 
what reason I know not, is called " The English 
Turn." Plantations continue at intervals for about 
forty miles, when cultivation entirely ceases. 

Below this, nature is to be seen only in her drea- 
riest and most desolate aspect. At first there are 
forests springing in rank luxuriance from swamps, 
impassable even by the foot of the Indian hunter. 
But these soon pass, and nothing but interminable 
cane brakes are to be seen on either side. From 
the shrouds of the steam-boat, though the range of 
vision probably extended for many leagues, no other 
objects were discernible but the broad muddy river, 
with its vast masses of drift wood, and the wilder- 
ness of gigantic bulrushes shaking in the wind. 

There are four passes or outlets by Avhich the 
Mississippi discharges its mighty burden into the 
Gulf of Mexico. Two of these are navigable, but 
changes are ever taking place, and the passage 
formerly preferred by the pilots, is now rarely at- 
tempted even by vessels of the smallest class. On 
approaching the Gulf, verdure appears only at in- 


tei'vals, and the eye rests on tracts of mere mud, 
formed by the deposit of tlie river on the drift wood 
which some obstacle has arrested in its passage to 
the ocean. It is by this process that land is formed, 
and it may be traced in every step of its progress, 
from the island resting on a few logs, up to the huge 
tract in whose bosom are embedded many millioDs. 
Encountering no obstacle, the river sends out arms 
in every direction, which, after winding through the 
half-formed region in a thousand fantastic flexures, 
are again united to the main branches. 

It would be difficult to convey an idea by words, 
of the effect which this most dismal scene produces 
on the heart and imagination of the spectator. It 
seems as if the process of creation were incomplete, 
and the earth yet undivided from the waters, for 
he beholds only an indeterminate mass which admits 
of being absolutely assigned to neither element. He 
feels that he has forsaken the regions of the habi- 
table world. Above, beneath, around, there is no- 
thing to excite his sympathies, and probably for the 
first time in his life he becomes conscious of the full 
sublimity of desolation, 

VOL, II. u 


The steamer Laving towed her burden safely 
across the bar, took up several inward bound ves- 
sels, and commenced her voyage back, to the city. 
I felt it absolutely a relief when my eye again rested 
on the deep shadows of the forest. Then came the 
dwellings of man. Never had the smoke, which rose 
in spiral wreaths above the masses of foliage, appear- 
ed so beautiful. Even New Orleans seemed to have 
lost something of its dinginess, when, after a three 
days' voyage, I found myself comfortably seated at 
the French restaurateur's, and saw the waiter enter 
with a most tempting dish of beccaficas, or some 
bird very much like them, and very nearly as good. 




On the evening of the 10th of April, I bade fare- 
well to New Orleans, and embarked on the canal 
which connects the city with the Bayou St John. 
These bayous are sluggish creeks which alternately 
supply nourishment to the Mississippi, and ease it 
of its load. When the river is in flood, the bayous 
which intersect the whole country, act as safety- 
valves, and prevent a general inundation. When it 
is low, they restore a portion of their waters, and 
thus contribute to equalize the volume of the river 
at different seasons. 

The Bayou St John has all the appearance of a 
canal. Its course leads through a swamp covered 
with cedars, and other trees which delight in exube- 


rant moisture. It was dark when we reached Lake 
Pontchartrain, and the steamer lay at anchor at 
some distance from the shore. As it did not sail 
tilHheTollowing morning, I should probably have 
slept at the inn had its appearance been at all 
inviting. But there was a large party carousing at 
the bar, and its pretensions were simply those of a 
pot-house. I therefore determined to embark imme- 
diately, though the night was dark, and the w^iud 
unusually high. 

It may appear ridiculous to talk of a storm on a 
lake some forty or fifty miles long, and not more 
than two or three in breadth. But the tempestas in 
matula — if so it must be called — was exceedingly 
disagreeable, and before we reached the vessel, our 
boat was nearly full of water. Both the constitution 
and equanimity of a traveller should be robust enough 
to stand an occasional drenching without injury or 
disturbance ; but to have your whole baggage satu- 
rated with water, — your books, papers, and other 
perishable valuables, seriously damaged, if not entire- 
ly destroyed, is apt to produce an elongation of 
visage in a more philosophical tourist than myself. 


At all events it was in such pickle that I reached 
the steam-boat. The more immediate and personal 
consequences of the misfortune were obviated by the 
exhibitiojn of a cigar, and a glass of the truly Ameri- 
can catholicon, brandy and water; and on the follow- 
ing morning my whole chattels were spread out to 
dry on the deck, apparently to the great satisfaction 
of several curious passengers who not only subjected 
the state of my wardrobe to a rigid inspection, but 
attempted to read my papers, a compliment which I 
begged leave to decline. 

From Lake Pontcbartrain we passed into Lake 
Borgne, a basin of similar character, and equally 
devoid of beauty. Both are surrounded by vast 
marshes, and the view on every side is dreary and 
monotonous. On a projection at the narrow pass 
by which these lakes are united, is a fort garrisoned 
by a company of the United States army. A more 
wretched place it is impossible to conceive. The 
climate is among the most villainous in the world; 
and an officer who happened to be a passenger, and 
had once for three years enjoyed the pleasures of 


tliis charming station, assured me that the mosqui- 
toes are so numerous that it is absolutely necessary 
to live nine months of the year under gauze. 

It was pitch-dark when we reached a place called 
Passamagoula, Avhere our voyage terminated. It 
here became necessary to cross the lake, about half 
a mile broad, on a narrow and rickety bridge of 
planks. The exploit was achieved without accident, 
but it was really one of peril. To see was impos- 
sible, and to grope equally so, for the railing in many 
places had given way. At one point of our progress 
it was necessary to jump, and I remember plunging 
forward into the abyss with the delightful incerti- 
tude of whether, in the course of a second, I was not 
to find myself in the middle of Lake Borgne. The 
betting, I believe, would have been pretty equal be- , 
tween plank and water, but luckily the former car- 
ried it, and in a few minutes I was safely housed in 
a dirty log tavern. 

The landlord was particularly anxious that some 
of the party should remain till the following day to 
proceed by another coach, but having already se- 


cured places at New Orleans, I would by no means 
listen to the suggestion, and, accordingly, about one 
o'clock in the morning, I had the satisfaction of find- 
ing myself in the mail stage, moving slowly onward 
towards Mobile. Our road was what is expressively 
called a natural one, and lay through a continued 
pine forest. In the whole distance I observed only 
two houses, one of which was a tavern, where we 
stopped to sup about four in the morning. Our fare 
was cold venison and bacon, for which the charge 
was so enormous as to excite the indignation of the 
passengers, who said not a word until we drove off, 
when they united in declaring that their pockets had 
been picked. 

This forest drive is imprinted on my memory by 
association with a scene of peculiar beauty. The 
wind had fallen, and the night was warm and misty. 
After leaving the tavern, the forest suddenly became 
illumined with myriads of fire-flies. The dark fo- 
liage of the pines shone resplendently in the multi- 
tude of tiny corruscations. But in an hour day 
dawned, and the "ineffectual fires" of these beauti- 
ful insects were soon extinguished in its radiance. 

240 MOBILE. 

About nine in the morning of the 12th of April 
we reached Mobile, a town, as every Liverpool mer- 
chant well knows, of considerable importance. It 
was burned down some years ago, but few traces of 
the conflagration are now discernible. On enquiry, 
I found the steana-boat for Montgomery did not start 
for three days, and, therefore, I judged it advisable 
to take advantage of my letters. These were not 
less efficacious in procuring kindness at Mobile, than 
I had found them in other places. 

My observations during this three days' residence 
afforded little to record. Mobile is a place of trade, 
and of nothing else. It is the great port of the cot- 
ton-growing State of Alabama. The quays were 
crowded with shipping, and in amount of exports 
it is inferior only to New Orleans. The wealtli of 
tlie Mobile merchants must accumulate rapidly, for 
they certainly do not dissipate it in expenditure. 
There are no smart houses or equipages, nor indeed 
any demonstration of opulence, except huge ware- 
houses and a crowded harbour. Of amusements of 
any kind I heard nothing. 
- My mornings were passed in wandering about the 


neighbouring forest, which is full of Indians. These 
men had evidently been debased by their intercourse 
with Europeans. It is only in the remote wilder- 
ness that they appear in their native dignity and 
independence. And yet something of their oi'iginal 
grace and spirit seemed still to cling to them. They 
are poor, yet patient under suffering, and though 
subdued, are nobly submissive. During my walks 
I often attempted to converse with them, but their 

taciturnity was not to be overcome. I gave them 
money, but they received it rather with surprise 

than thankfulness. They were without experience 
in gratitude, and too manly to express that which 
they did not feel. 

I was strongly recommended to lay in a store of 
cogniac and biscuits at Mobile, being assured that in 
the country I was about to traverse, there would be 
found neither bread nor brandy. Though not parti- 
cularly apprehensive of suffering by privation of 
either, I adopted the advice of my friends, and visit- 
ed a Scotch baker, whom I directed to pack for me 
a small box of biscuits. My countrymen are ac- 
cused of cherishing a certain indestructible sentiment 



of affinity. Whether this moved the baker and my- 
self I know not, but we had a good deal of conver- 
sation on the subject of emigration. My compatriot 
was a native of Hamilton, and had courted fortune 
there without success. Regardless of Malthus 
and his precepts, he had married, and unluckily his 
family increased quite as rapidly as his hope of sup- 
porting it diminished. Under these circumstances he 
turned his little moveables into money, and trusting 
his progeny for a season to God and their own in- 
dustry, set off for America. On arriving at New 
York, he worked for some months as a journeyman, 
but learning from a friend that kneaders of dough 
were in greater request at Mobile, he there pitched 
his tabernacle and heated his oven. His family had 
since joined him, and he was now, he assured me, 
in the enjoyment of every comfort which the most 
prosperous baker could desire. 

In conversation the man's mind seemed to be al- 
ternately influenced by attachment to his native land, 
and satisfaction in the enjoyment of those advan- 
tages which had resulted from his quitting it. At 
first he would talk of nothing but the beauties of the 


Clyde. " Oh, sir," said he, " are not the banks of 
the Clyde beautiful ? Did you ever see a river like 
it? Does not the road from Hamilton to Lanark 
pass through a perfect paradise ? I am sure the whole 
world has nothing equal to it." 

I agreed in all his praises of the Clyde, and 
enquired whether he had not found, in the solid 
comforts of the New World, a sufficient compensa- 
tion for the loss of those beauties which it delighted 
his imagination to recall. This question seemed to 
have the effect of diverting the whole current of 
the baker's ideas. He dilated on his present com- 
forts told me he lived like a duke,— the man was 
redolent of broth, — had two slaves, could pay his 
debts any day in the week, and had lately been able, 
without inconvenience, to send a hundred dollars 
to his poor mother. In regard to emigration he ex- 
pressed his opinions at great length. " In Scotland, 
sir," said this sagacious master of the rolls, " there 
is so much competition in every trade that a great 
many must be unsuccessful. Take my own case as 
an example : when I set up a shop in Hamilton, I 
was honest and industrious enough, and understood 


my business quite as well as any baker in the county ; 
still I could get little custom. The trade was already 
full, and those only who had considerable capital 
could afford to wait till business came in by slow 
degrees. This would not do for me, whose whole 
stock in trade consisted only of fifty pounds, bor- 
rowed from my wife's uncle. I was obliged to 
sell my bread to pay for my flour, and finding that 
impossible, soon got into the Gazette. My story is 
that of thousands more ; and surely these men had 
better come to this country, than continue struggling 
for a precarious subsistence at home. They may 
not get rich here, but they will be sure, if they are 
sober, industrious, and do not suffer from the cli- 
mate, to escape from poverty. But it is not actual 
want of the necessaries of life, sir, which occasions 
the chief suffering of the poor tradesman in the old 
country. It is the cares and anxieties that continually 
press on him, that deprive his bread of its nourish- 
ment, and disturb his sleep by horrible dreams; 
it is these things that wear out both soul and 
body, and make him an old man before his time. In 
America a man may look to the future without more 


apprehension than what naturally arises from the 
common accidents to which we are liable in all 
countries. He need have no fears about his family, 
for he has plenty to give them in the meantime ; and 
if they live, they will soon be able to provide for 

" Still I would not advise any one who is in a steady 
way of business at home, however small, and who 
can make both ends meet by strict economy, to think 
of emigrating. It is a sore trial, sir ; and if I had 
been a single man, with no one to provide for but 
myself, I never would have left bonny Scotland. Oh, 
sir, the rivers here are not to be compared to the 
Clyde ; and had the worst come to the worst, I would 
still have continued to get both bite and sup ; and I 
often think now that a mouthful in that country 
would do me more good than a whole bellyful in this. 
The man that comes here, sir, only exchanges one 
set of evils for another : he is obliged to mingle 
with a most profane and godless set. He cannot hear 
the gospel preached, as he has been accustomed to, 
and the profanation of the Sabbath is most awful. 
He cannot give his children a religious education, 

246 THE baker's advice to emigrants. 

and bring them up in the fear of the Lord ; and it 
is shocking to think of the sights of depravity to 
which they must become accustomed from their very 
infancy. I am not sure, sir, that poverty is not a 
slight evil when compared to this. 

'' Then there is slavery, sir; men are treated in this 
country far worse than brute beasts in Scotland, and 
surely this is dreadful. There is no getting any 
thing done here without slaves, for all white men 
think it a disgrace to labour. I was obliged to buy 
a slave with the first money I could spare, and I 
have now two, but I treat them just like free servants, 
and teach my children thatj in the eye of God, they 
are as good as themselves. After all, it is a sore 
trial of patience, for the creatures are dirty, and have 
no sense or gumption. Then, the ways of the people 
here are not pleasant to one from the old country: 
they are not social and neighbourly, and are so 
keen about money, that I believe they would skin a 
flea for lucre of the hide and tallow. There is a 
great deal, sir, that should be well-weighed and con- 
sidered before a man decides on leaving the land of 
his birth. I have never advised a friend of mine to 


do SO, aad wben applied to, though I give all the in- 
formation in my power, I advise nothing but cau- 

So far as my memory would permit, I have em- 
bodied the oration of the baker in his own words. 
It struck me as being marked by an unusual degree 
of good sense, and may possibly be found useful. 
At all events his biscuits were excellent, and during 
my eight days' residence in the Creek country, I often 
thought of him with gratitude. 

On the 15th of April I embarked on board of the 
steam-boat Isabella, bound up the Alabama river 
for Montgomery. As there were no ladies on board, 
my English friend and myself succeeded in getting 
possession of the cabin usually appropriated for their 
accommodation. Our apartment was immediately 
above that occupied by the gentlemen, and being sur- 
rounded by a balcony, it was impossible to desire any 
thing more agreeable. The party below seemed to 
consist almost exclusively of farmers, who, though 
exceedingly offensive both in habits and deportment, 
are yet a shade better than the inhabitants of towns. 
There is nothing rustic, however, about any Ame- 


rican ; nothing of that simplicity which distinguishes 
the peasantry of other countries. The eye is almost 
uniformly expressive of care and cunning ; and often, 
as I looked on the furrowed and haggard counte- 
nances which surrounded the dinner table, have I 
asked myself, " Is it possible that these men make 
pretension to happiness?" 

In my progress down the western waters, I liad 
become accustomed to a table, loaded even to excess 
with provisions of all sorts. In the Southern States 
there is no such profusion. Our dinners on board 
the Isabella were scanty in quantity, and far from 
laudable on the score of quality. Plates, dishes, 
knives and forks, tablecloths, all were dirty and 
disgusting. But bating these disagreeables, our voy- 
age was pleasant and prosperous. The Alabama is a 
river apparently about the size of the Hudson; and 
the scenery through which it led us, was very plea- 
sing, though deficient in variety. Either bank pre- 
sented a splendid mass of luxuriant foliage, and 
some of the noblest timber I had ever seen. Among 
the forest trees I remarked the plane, the cotton- 
tree, dogwood, oak of several varieties, magnolia 


grandiflora, maple, gum-tree, hackberry, &c. At 
night I was peculiarly struck with the beauty of the 
stars reflected in the pure waters of the river. The 
whole sky was mirrored with a vividness which ex- 
ceeded every thing of the kind I have ever witnessed 
before or since. 

In the evening we passed Claiborne, a petty vil- 
lage on a height, a short distance from the river. 
In a State so thinly peopled as Alabama, however, it 
is talked of as a considerable place ; but from all I 
saw or heard of it, Claiborne is not increasing, nor 
is it likely to increase. On the morning following, 
we came to Portland, a miserable place, consisting 
of a store and a few wretched houses. This is what 
is called, in American phrase, " a great improve- 
ment." We called at every house in the place in 
search of milk, but could get none. 

Our next stoppage was at Cahawba, which, a year 
or two back, was the seat of government of the State. 
It is a very poor collection of very poor houses, not, 
I should imagine, above twenty in number. The 
Court-house happening to be open, I entered, and 
found the Court engaged in the discharge of busi- 
ness. On an elevated platform, composed of rough 


unpainted boards, sat his honour, the judge, not better 
dressed, and apparently somewhat filthier in habits, 
than an English ploughman. The case concerned the 
payment of a doctor's bill : the counsel for defen- 
dant, a gentleman in a fustian jacket, was in the act 
of addressing the Court. He read an act of the 
legislature, enacting, that no practitioner of the 
healing art should recover for medical attendance, 
without having been previously licensed by a Board 
of Doctors, and called on the plaintiff, as a necessary 
preliminary, to produce his certificate. 

This was evidently inconvenient, and the plain- 
tiff's counsel, whose appearance seemed to indicate 
a combination of the trade of blacksmith with that 
of barrister, was somewhat taken aback by the de- 
mand. The learned gentleman, however, attempted 
with all his ingenuity, to get out of the scrape, and 
at the conclusion of every sentence, hitched up 
his corduroy breeches, which seemed in danger of 
dropping about his heels, with a grace peculiarly 
his own. Unfortunately I had not time to wait 
for the peroration of the speech. The steam-boat 
bell sounded, and no time was to be lost in getting 
on board. 


Shortly after dark we reached Selma, the most 
considerable settlement on the Alabama, between 
Mobile and Montgomery. There was no quay, and 
a good deal of the cargo was rolled out upon the 
bank without any one to receive it. I did not see 
Selma, for the night was cloudy and moonless, and 
the village stands at a short distance from the river. 

On the fourth day, our voyage terminated. Mont- 
gomery is what is called " a considerable place," 
though its population does not exceed a few hun- 
dreds, and these exclusively of the poorer order. 
There is not one tolerable house, and nothing could 
be worse than the inn. In the way of dormitory, 
nothing- was to be had but a room with three beds 
in it, all of which were destined to be occupied. 
What was still worse, the beds were full of vermin, 
and the mosquitoes more annoying than I had yet 
found them. 

In such circumstances I was up with the l?"k, 
and set out on a long ramble through the neighbour- 
ing country. The soil is poor and light, but presents 
a prettily undulating surface. From one height I 
enjoyed a fine view of the river, which is truly, 


even at this distance from the sea, a noble object. 
After a walk of three hours I returned to the inn, 
having fortunately succeeded in throwing off by- 
exercise, the fever and fatigue of a restless night. 

In the Southern States, there is little of that 
stirring spirit of improvement so apparent in the 
regions of the West. The towns and villages are 
without appearance of business, and the number 
of dilapidated — if the word may be applied to 
structures of wood — houses, indicates a decreasing, 
rather than an augmenting population. In Mont- 
gomery, many houses had been deserted, and the 
Court-house seemed fast falling into decay. 

At four o'clock p. m., we started in the mail stage 
for Fort Mitchell. There were unfavourable reports 
abroad of the state of the rivers, which were assert- 
ed to be impassable ; but I had so often experienced 
that difficulties, formidable at a distance, become 
insignificant on nearer approach, that I determined 
to push on at all hazards. In the present case, my 
determination was unlucky, for it involved both my 
companion and myself in some little danger, and 
occasioned considerable detention. 


We accomplished the first stage without difficulty 
of any kind, but with the second commenced the 
tug of war. Our first obstacle was a bayou of such 
depth, that in crossing it, the water was ankle-deep 
in the bottom of the carriage. Night had set in be- 
fore we reached Lime Creek, which, though general- 
ly a slow and sluggish stream, was now swelled into 
a very formidable torrent. It requires experience 
to understand the full danger of crossing such a 
river, and, perhaps fortunately, I did not possess it. 
But both the passengers and coachman were under 
considerable alarm, and one of the former, a Louis- 
ianian planter, in broken English threatened the 
black ferryman with instant death in case of negli- 
gence or blunder. This caused some merriment; 
but Sambo, who was evidently under no alarm, took 
the matter very coolly. The coach was run into 
the ferry-boat, and by means of a hawser stretched 
across the river, we soon found ourselves in safety 
on the opposite bank. 

We were now in the territory of the Creek 
Indians, and in consequence of the darkness, 
it was soon found impossible to proceed without 


torches. We tried in vain to procure them at several 
of the Indian encampments, but were at last fortu- 
nate enough to discover an axe in the coach, with 
which abundance were soon cut from the neigh- 
bouring pines. I have had occasion to say a great 
deal about roads in these volumes, but I pronounce 
that along which our route lay on the present occa- 
sion, to be positively, comparatively, and superlatively, 
the very worst I have ever travelled in the whole 
course of my peregrinations. The ruts were axle- 
deep, and huge crevices occasionally occurred, in 
which, but for great strategy on the part of the 
coachman, the vehicle must have been engulfed. 

In such circumstances none of the passengers 
seemed ambitious of the dangerous distinction of 
keeping his seat. We all walked, each armed with 
a pine torch, and the party, to a spectator, must 
have had very much the aspect of a funeral proces- 
sion. Nothing, however, could be more beautiful 
than the scene presented by the forest. The glare 
of our torches, as we continued slowly advancing 
amid the darkness ; the fires of the Indian encamp- 
ments seen at a distance through the trees, and the 


wild figures by wliich they were surrounded ; the 
multitude of fire-flies which flickered everywhere 
among the foliage, — formed a combination of objects 
which more than compensated in picturesque beauty, 
for all the difiiculties we had yet encountered. 

We had to pass two swamps on a sort of pave- 
ment formed of logs of trees, or what is called in 
America, a " corduroy road." The operation, though 
one of some difficulty, was efl^ected without ac- 
cident. The country, as we advanced, presented 
greater inequalities of surface. Stumps of trees often 
came in contact with the wheels, and brought the 
whole machine to a standstill ; trees which had been 
blown over by the wind sometimes lay directly 
across the road, and it was with difficulty that the 
united exertions of the passengers succeeded in 
removing them. 

In spite of all obstacles, however, we reached an 
Indian tavern, where we changed horses and had 
supper. We were now beyond the region of bread, 
and our fare consisted of eggs, broiled venison, and 
cakes of Indian corn fried in some kind of oleaginous 
matter. The venison was tolerable, and with the 


biscuits of my friend, the Mobile baker, I bade 
defiance to fate in the way of eating. 

On returning to the coach, we found the night 
had become one of rain. The clouds began dis- 
charging their contents in no very alarming profu- 
sion, but this soon changed, and the rain absolutely 
descended in torrents. The pine torches refused to 
burn ; the wind roared loudly among the trees ; 
streams came rushing down the gullies, and inunda- 
ted the road, and in spite of greatcoats and water- 
proof cloaks, in less than an hour I found myself 
fairly drenched to the skin. 

At length the horses, on getting half way up a 
hill, became fairly exhausted, and no application of 
the lash could induce them to proceed. The pas- 
sengers all pushed most lustily, but the horses were 
obstinate, and gave us no assistance. In short, we 
were evidently hard and fast for the night, and 
resigning all hope of immediate extrication, the 
driver was despatched on one of the leaders to the 
next stage Tor assistance, while in doleful mood, 
and absolutely saturated with water, we reseated 
ourselves in the coach to await his reappearance. 


It would not, ill truth, be easy to conceive a set 
of men in more miserable pickle. The storm, instead 
of abating, continued to increase. The peals of 
thunder were tremendous. The lightning split a 
huge pine-tree within a few yards of us, and one of 
the passengers declared he was struck blind, and 
did not recover his sight for an hour or two. The 
rain beat in through the sides and covering of the 
carriage, as if in wantonness of triumph to drench 
men who, sooth to say, were quite wet enough al- 
ready. In short, 

" Such sheets of fire, su^h bursts of horrid thunder, 
Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never 
Remember to have heard." 

From one o'clock in the morning until seven did 
we continue in this comfortless condition, when we 
were somewhat cheered by the appearance of the 
driver, who, we afterwards discovered, had been 
sleeping very comfortably in an Indian cottage in 
the neighbourhood. He brought with him a couple 
of Negroes, but no additional horses, and of course 
it was quite preposterous to suppose that the poor 



animals, who had been standing all night without 
food, and exposed to the storm, could now perform 
a task to which they had formerly proved unequal. 
The attempt was made, however ; and to lighten the 
coach, our baggage was tossed out upon the road. 
Neither the Negroes, horses, nor passengers, could 
move the coach one inch from its position. There 
it was, and there it was destined to remain. Our 
last hope of extrication had now failed us, and it 
became necessary to find shelter and hospitality as 
best we could. 

Luckily an Indian cottage was discovered at no 
great distance, where, by the help of a blazing fire, 
we succeeded in drying our drenched garments. In 
the course of the day a bullock waggon was des- 
patched for the mail-bags and luggage, and there 
was evidently nothing for it but roughing it with a 
good grace. 

On the part of those on whose privacy we had in- 
truded, our welcome was tranquil, but apparently 
sincere. Our host — one of the handsomest Indians 
I have ever seen — spread before us his whole store 
of eggs, venison, and Indian corn, with the air of a 


forest gentleman. His two wives, with greater ad- 
vantages of toilet, would probably bave been good- 
looking, but being unfortunately rather dirty, and 
clad only in a blanket and blue petticoat, the sum 
of their attractions was by no means overpowering. 
The children were nearly naked, yet graceful in all 
their motions.. Their chief amusement seemed to 
consist in the exercise of the crossbow. 

One of the passengers produced a musical snuff- 
box, which occasioned great excitement in the wo- 
men and children. The men were too dignified or 
phlegmatic to betray either pleasure or astonishment. 
Our host, however, was evidently delighted with an 
air-gun with which several birds were killed for his 
amusement. He then asked permission to take a 
shot, and hit a dollar with great accuracy at about 
thirty yards. 

It somewhat lowered the ideas of romance con- 
nected with these Indians, to find that they are many 
of them slave-owners. But slavery among this simple 
people assumes a very different aspect from any 
under which I had yet beheld it. The negroes speak 
English and generally act as dragomen in ai>y 



intercourse with the whites. They struck me as being: 
far handsomer than any I liad yet seen, partly per- 
haps from being unhabituated to severe labour, and 
partly from some slight admixture of Indian blood. 
I conversed with several, who described their bondage 
as light, and spoke of their master and his family 
with affection. To the lash they are altogether 
unaccustomed, and when married, live in houses of 
their own, round which they cultivate a patch of 
ground. The Negro and Indian children are brought 
up together on a footing of perfect equality, and the 
government of the family seemed entirely patriarchal. 
The weather had become fine, and the day passed 
more pleasantly than the night. The Indian terri- 
tory being beyond the reach of American law, is 
sought as a place of refuge by criminalsa and those 
to whom the restraints of civilized society are habi- 
tually irksome. These men intermarry with the 
natives, among whom they contribute to spread 
guilt and demoralization. In truth, the majority are 
ruffians, whose proneness to crime is here alike 
unchecked by principle, religion, public opinion, 
or dread of punishment. 


Towards evening two of this class came in. and 
chose to pass the night in drinking. Nothing more 
offensive tlian their manners and conversation can 
readily be conceived. After bearing patiently with 
this annoyance for an hour or two, it at length 
became intolerable, and, in order to escape, I spread 
my cloak in a corner of the cabin and endeavoured 
to sleep. But this was impossible. The noise, 
the demands for liquor, the blasphemy, the wrang- 
ling, were unceasing. At length one of the men 
drew his dirk, and attempted to assassinate his 
opponent, who succeeded, however, in seizing him 
by the throat, and both rolled upon the floor. I im- 
mediately jumped up, and the alarm roused our host, 
who, with the assistance of a slave, barely succeeded 
in saving the life of one of the combatants. He was 
at first insensible. His mouth was wide open; his 
face and lips were livid ; his eyes seemed bursting 
from their sockets, and on being raised, his head 
hung down upon his shoulder. His lungs, however, 
made a convulsive effort to regain their action. There 
was a loud and sudden gurgle, and he became better. 
The other man was prevailed on to depart ; and to- 


wards four in the morning, silence, broken only by 
the snoring of some of its inmates, reigned in the 

Sleep, however, was impossible, under the inces- 
sant attacks of a multitude of blood-suckers, which, 
flea for man, would have outnumbered the army of 
Xerxes. But morning came, and fortunately with 
it a coach intended to convey us on our journey. 
Our host could not be prevailed on to make any 
charge for our entertainment, but one of his wives 
received all we chose to offer, and appeared satis- 
fied with its amount. Not an article of the bag- 
gage was found missing, and on departing I shook 
hands with the whole establishment — Negroes in- 
cluded — to the great scandal of the American pas- 

Even by daylight our way was beset by difficul- 
ties. First came Kilbeedy Creek, which we crossed 
by as awkward and rickety a bridge as can well be 
imagined. Then came Pessimmon's swamp, which 
presented a delightful corduroy road, some parts of 
which had been entirely absorbed by the morass. 
At length we reached the inn kept by an American 


polygamist with three Indian wives. The breakfast 
was no better than might be expected in such an es- 
tablishment. It consisted of bad coffee, rancid ve- 
nison and corn cakes, no eggs, no milk, no butter. 
Our host apparently had no great taste in regard 
to wives. One was round as a hogshead ; another 
skin and bone ; of the third I saw, or at least remem- 
ber, nothing. 

The meal concluded, we again set forward. Our 
route lay through one continued pine forest. In the 
course of the day we passed many Indian wigwams, 
and a few houses of a better order, surrounded by 
small enclosures. The road by no means improved, 
and, in order to relieve the horses, we were com- 
pelled to walk. At one place it was completely ob- 
structed by a huge fallen tree, which delayed our 
progress for at least two hours. About three o'clock 
we dined at the house of a half-caste Indian, on the 
usual fare, venison and Indian corn. 

In the course of the evening we passed several 
heights which afforded extensive, if not fine, views 
of the neighbouring country. The road too became 
somewhat better, and being composed of sand with- 


out stones, though heavy for the horses, was not un- 
comfortable for the passengers. For myself, I never 
experienced greater fatigue. During the two pre- 
ceding nights, I had never closed an eye, and when, 
at four in the morning, we reached a small tavern, 
where — owing: to the desertion of the moon — it was 
found necessary to wait till daylight, I cast myself 
on the floor, and in a moment was asleep. 

Daylight soon came, and I was again roused from 
my slumbers. We were yet fourteen miles from Fort 
Mitchell, and for the greater part of the distance 
were compelled to make progress on foot. The sun 
rose beautifully above the dark tops of the pine- 
trees, but he was never gazed on by more languid 
eyes. At ten o'clock we reached Fort Mitchell, having 
in twenty-four hours accomplished a distance of only 
ninety miles. 

Fort Mitchell is garrisoned by a detachment of 
the United States army, in order to prevent aggres- 
sion on the Georgian frontier by the Indians. Be- 
yond the limits of the fort there are, — if I remember 
rightly, — only three houses, one of which is a tavern. 
Its accommodations were far from comfortable, but 


the landlord was civil, and evidently disposed to do 
bis best in our bebalf. Under sucli circumstances 
we made no complaint, though — ^judging from the 
scantiness of our meals — his larder must have ri- 
valled in opulence the shop of the apothecary in 
Romeo and Juliet. 

My first effort was to procure a place in the coach 
to Augusta, but in this I was disappointed. Fort 
Mitchell seemed a sort of trou de rat which it was 
difficult to get into, and still more difficult to get out 
of. I was detained there for nearly a week, and 
never did time pass more slowly. Had my sojourn 
been voluntary, I should probably have found a great 
deal to interest and amuse, but an enforced resi- 
dence is never pleasant, and but for the privilege of 
grumbling, would be intolerable. 

The officers of the garrison lived in the hotel, and 
took pleasure in showing kindness to a stranger. I 
rode with them through the neighbouring forest, and 
was indebted to them for much valuable informa- 
tion relative to the Indians. During my stay, there 
was a Ball Play, in which two neighbouring tribes 

VOL. II. z 


contended for superiority. One of these was the 
Creeks, the other the Ewitches, a very small tribe 
which occupy a district in the Creek territory, and 
still retain all their peculiarities of language and 

On the appointed morning we repaired to the 
scene of action, where a considerable number of 
spectators^ — chiefly Indians — had already assembled. 
The players on each side soon appeared, and retired 
to the neighbouring thickets to adjust their toilet 
for the game. While thus engaged, either party en- 
deavoured to daunt their opponents by loud and dis- 
cordant cries. At length they emerged with their 
bodies entirely naked except the waist, which was 
encircled by a girdle. Their skin was besmeared 
with oil, and painted fantastically with different 
colours. Some wore tails, others necklaces made of 
the teeth of animals, and the object evidently was to 
look as ferocious as possible. 

After a good deal of preliminary ceremony, the 
game began. The object of either party was to 
send the ball as far as possible into their adversary's 
ground, and then to make it pass between two 


poles, erected for tlie purpose of demarcation. I 
certainly never saw a finer display of agile move- 
ment. In figure tlie Creek Indians are tall and 
graceful. There is less volume of muscle than in 
Englishmen, but more activity and freedom of mo- 
tion. Many of the players were handsome men, 
and one in particular might have stood as the model 
of an Apollo. His form and motions displayed 
more of the ideal than I had ever seen actually 
realized in a human figure. The Ewitches were by 
no means so good-looking as their competitors. 

The game is accompanied with some danger, both 
to those engaged in it and to the spectators. It is 
quite necessary for the latter to keep clear of the 
melee, for in following the ball, the whole body of 
the players sweep on like a hurricane, and a gouty 
or pursy gentleman could be safe only when perched 
on the boughs of a tree. At length the Creeks were 
victorious, and the air rang with savage shouts of 
triumph. The poor Ewitches, chop-fallen, quitted 
the field, declaring, however, that none but their 
worst players had taken part in the game. The 
victors danced about in all the madness of inordi- 


iiate elation, and the evening terminated in a pro- 
fuse jollification, to which I had the honour of con- 

During my stay at Fort Mitchell I saw a good 
deal of the United States troops. The discipline is 
very lax^ and being always separated in small de- 
tachments, they have no opportunity of being exer- 
cised in field movements. On Sunday there was a 
dress parade, which I attended. Little was done, 
but that little in the most slovenly manner. It is 
only justice to the officers to state, that they are 
quite aware of the deficiencies of the service to which 
they belong. " You will laugh," they said, *' at our 
want of method and discipline, but the fault is not 
ours ; we cannot help it. The service is unpopular, 
we receive no support from the government, and we 
have no means of maintaining proper subordination." 
A non-commissioned officer, who had formerly been 
in our service, and therefore understood what soldiers 
should be, in answering some questions, treated 
the whole affair as a joke. He entered the Ame- 
rican service, he said, because there was easy work, 
and little trouble of any sort. He had no inten« 


tion of remaining long in it, for he could do bet- 
ter in other ways. There was no steady and effec- 
tive command kept over the soldiers, and yet there 
was a great deal of punishment. Even from the 
small detachment at Fort Mitchell desertions hap- 
pened every week. Whenever a man became tired 
of his duty, off he went, bag and baggage, and pur- 
suit was hopeless. 

The truth is, that men accustomed to democracy 
can never be brought to submit patiently to the 
rigours of military discipline. The nation take pride 
in their navy, but none in their army. The latter ser- 
vice is neglected; there is no encouragement for the 
display of zeal in the officers, and the stations are so 
remote as to remove the troops entirely from public 
observation. The people care nothing for a set of 
invisible beings mewed up in some petty forts on the 
vast frontier, who have no enemy to contend with^ 
and are required to brave nothing but fever and 
mosquitoes. Then, whena case connected with the 
enforcement of discipline comes before the civil 
courts, the whole feeling is in favour of the prose- 
cutor. I remember a curious instance of this, which 


was related to me by an officer of distinction in the 
United Service army. A soldier found guilty, by a 
court-martial, of repeated desertions, was sentenced 
to a certain period of imprisonment, and loss of pay. 
The man underwent the allotted punishment, and 
on being liberated, immediately brought actions 
against all the members of the court-martial. The 
ground taken up was this : — The articles of war 
state, that whoever is guilty of desertion, shall 
" suffer death, or such other punishment as, by a 
general court-martial, shall be awarded." It was 
maintained, that, by this clause, the court were em- 
powered to inflict only one punishment, and that 
in passing sentence of imprisonment and stoppage of 
pay, they had inflicted two. The jury gave a verdict 
and high damages against the members of the court, 
who received no assistance nor protection of any 
kind from the government. 

On leaving Fort Mitchell we crossed the Chata- 
houchy — a very considerable river, of which 1 had 
never heard — and entered the State of Georgia. Our 
road still continued to lie through an almost unbroken 
pine forest, and the roads were mere sand, in which 


the wheels sank half up to the axles. The heat was 
very great. We travelled all night, and on the 
evening of the following day reached Macon, the 
most considerable place I had seen since leaving 
Mobile. We dined there, and again set forward. 
About ten at night we reached Milledgeville, where 
I was obliged to remain through illness, though still 
nearly two days' journey from Augusta, to which I 
had secured places. 

I passed a restless and uncomfortable night, and 
finding the fever still increase, sent for a doctor. I 
asked him whether he apprehended my complaint to 
be fever ? He answered, he certainly feared that I 
was suffering under the commencement of a fever of 
some sort, but with regard to its character or pro- 
bable termination, could pronounce no opinion. In 
spite of the doctor's medicines, I continued to get 
worse. The weather was intensely hot, and I began 
to calculate that Milledgeville would prove the ter- 
mination of my travels. But during the third night, 
a profuse perspiration came on, and in the morning I 
had the satisfaction to find that the fever was gone. 

Unfortunately my strength was gone with it. I 


could only walk with the greatest difficulty, and 
required assistance to reach the veranda. Luckily, 
there was a good-natured black cook, who sent me 
up a boiled chicken, the first food I tasted since 
leaving Macon. This acted as a restorative. On 
the day following, I could creep about the city, of 
which, being the metropolis of a State, it may be 
well to say a few words. 

Milledgeville has seen better days, and presents 
the appearance, not of a decayed gentleman, but 
of a starving mechanic. Many houses have already 
gone to decay, and others are fast following. It 
stands on the Oconee river, which, unfortunately, is 
every year becoming shallower, to the great injury 
both of trade and agriculture. The country round 
Milledgeville is undulating, and has been tolerably 
cleared. At first the soil was considered excellent, 
but wherever the forest has disappeared, the rains 
and torrents from the hills have swept off the earth 
from the declivities, and left nothing but gravel. 
It is chiefly to these causes, I believe, that the decline 
of population and prosperity may be attributed. 

The Georgian Legislature was not sitting, but 


I visited the State House. It is a brick building, 
which some blockhead of an architect has recently 
thought proper to Gothicize, The accommoda- 
tion within is plain, but sufficient. There is a por- 
trait of General Oglethorpe, who first received a 
grant of the settlement from the British Crown. 
He is a fine-looking old martinet, with a countenance 
full of talent, and an air of high breeding. I was 
invited to visit the State prison, but felt not the 
smallest curiosity. 

The second night after my recovery, I left Mill- 
edgeville, in the mail stage. My friend, the doctor, 
was a worthy and kind-hearted man, who forgave 
me for having disappointed his prognosis. We had 
had a good deal of conversation during his visits, and 
when he came to see me off in the coach, showed 
more feeling on the occasion than I deserved. He 
squeezed me heartily by the hand, and said, " Sir, 
I shall never see you again, but you have my very 
best wishes that health and happiness may attend 
you." To meet with kindness unexpectedly is 
always pleasant, and should these pages ever meet 
the eye of the worthy son of Galen— whose name, 


unfortunately, lias escaped my memory — I beg him 
to receive this public and grateful acknowledgment 
of his warm-hearted attentions to a stranger. 

A journey through Georgia presents little to re- 
cord. The inhabitants bear a bad character in other 
parts of the Union. They are, perhaps, a little 
savage and ferocious ; and, in regard to morals, one 
is tempted occasionally to regret that the gibbet 
is not abroad in Georgia as well as the school- 
master. From Fort Mitchell I travelled with three 
attorneys, two store-keepers, two cotton-planters, 
and a slave- dealer. My notions of the sort of con- 
versation prevalent in Newgate may not be very 
accurate, but I much doubt whether it would be 
found to indicate such utter debasement, both of 
thought and principle, as that to which I was con- 
demned to listen during this journey. 

Georgia receives large accessions of population in 
the offscourings of other slave States. The restraints 
of law are little felt, and it is the only State in the 
Union in which I heard it publicly asserted that jus- 
tice is not purely administered. A Georgian, with 
whom I conversed a great deal about his native 


State, declared, that, with plenty of money, he could, 
with facility, escape punishment for any offence, 
however heinous. I enquired the mode hy which 
so tempting an impunity was to be realized. He 
would, first, he said, have a touch at the sheriff, 
bribe the prosecutor's counsel to keep back evidence, 
or leave some flaw by which the proceedings might 
be vitiated; then, the jury — it would be odd indeed 
if he could not gain over some of them ; but even 
should all fail, there was the gaoler — a sure card. 
In Georgia, he assured me, there was really no 
danger to be apprehended from law by a gentleman 
with heavy pockets, who carried his wits about with 

A great part of the journey to Augusta was per- 
formed in the night. I saw enough, however, to 
convince me that there was no change in the general 
character of the scenery which I have so often 
described. Our supper-house was in a village called 
Sparta, but the landlord had gone to bed, and no- 
thing was to be had except brandy. On the following 
evening we reached Augusta. 

Soon after our arrival, I took a walk through the 


town. It stands on the Savannah river, and is the 
great depot for the cotton grown in the surrounding 
country, which is there shipped for Savannah or 
Charleston. The main street is broad, and of con- 
siderable length. There is a hjiiidsome bridge across 
the river, and the place altogether formed a pleasing 
contrast to those I had seen since the commence- 
ment of my voyage up the Alabama. 

My illness at Mil ledge ville had left a good 
deal of debility, and I determined on resting a 
day or two at Augusta. I had brought several 
letters, which I despatched, and was rather surprised 
to find that one of them was addressed to the land- 
lord of the tavern in which I had taken up my abode. 
The best introduction to people of this class is gene- 
rally a well-filled pocket; but it is only fair to state, 
that my letter did for me, what money most pro- 
bably would not. Mine host was in the highest 
degree civil, placed me at dinner on his right hand, 
was particularly attentive to the condition of my 
plate, and when I ordered wine, gave me, I do 
believe, one of the very best bottles in his cellar. 
He likewise conveyed me in his carriage to visit 


a military station in the neiglibourhoocl, and from 
the respect paid him by the officers, I concluded 
that he of the Red Lion was a topping man in the 

From Augusta, I should have gone down the 
river to Savannah, but the steamer was not to sail 
for five days, and I determined on proceeding by 
coach direct to Charleston. We had not advanced 
above a few miles, when a dreadful storm came on. 
The thunder was very loud, and the rain very heavy, 
but in the course of an hour or two the sky was again 
clear, and we at least enjoyed the benefit of tra- 
velling without dust. Our route lay through a 
succession of swamps and pine forests. Here 
and there was a rice or cotton plantation, which 
scarcely contributed to diminish the dreariness of the 

We travelled all night, and at two o'clock on the 
following day reached the Ashley river, within sight 
of Charleston. Unfortunately, the wind was too 
high for crossing, and till nine at night we were 
forced to remain in the ferry-house, where seventeen 
of us were crammed together in one miserable apart^ 



ment. What we should do for the night became 
matter of puzzle, but luckil}^ the wind lulled, and 
the appearance of the ferry-boat put an end to our 

Every Englishman who visits Charleston will, if 
he be wise, direct his baggage to be conveyed to 
Jones's hotel. It is a small house, but every thing 
is well managed, and the apartments are good. 
Our party at dinner did not exceed ten, and there 
was no bolting or scrambling. Jones is a black 
man, and must have prospered in the world, for I 
learned he was laid up with gout, — the disease of a 

The pleasure of getting into such a house, — of 
revisiting the glimpses of clean tablecloths and silver 
forks, — of exchanging salt pork and greasy corn 
cakes, for a table furnished with luxuries of all 
sorts, — was very great. For a day or two, I expe- 
rienced a certain impulse to voracity, by no means 
philosophical ; and, sooth to say, after the privations 
of a journey from New Orleans, the luxury of 
Jones's iced claret might have converted even 
Diogenes into a gourmet. 


Except New Orleans j Charleston is the only place 
I saw in the Southern States, which at all realizes 
our English ideas of a city. It was quite a relief, 
after the miserable towns I had lately passed through, 
to get into one bearing the impress of what— in the 
United States at least — may be called respectable 
antiquity. The public buildings are very good ; and 
though the streets, separately taken, had nothing 
handsome about them, the city presents an appear- 
ance of bustle and animation which tends to redeem 
minor defects. The greater part of the houses are 
of brick, and there are many buildings of preten» 
sions equal to any in the Union. A considerable 
number of the better houses are decorated by gar- 
dens, stocked with orange-trees, the pride of India, 
and a variety of flowering shrubs. 

The city stands on an isthmus formed by two 
rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper. The interior 
abounds in pestilential marshes, which are found 
to be happily adapted for the cultivation of rice, 
and the soil, in drier situations, produces excellent 
cotton. These articles constitute the staples of South 
Carolina, and the expenditure of human life in their 


cultivation is very great. The miasma generated 
by the rice grounds is peculiarly fatal. The slaves 
are forced to brave it, but at the expense of health 
and strength. They die — fortunately, perhaps — be- 
fore their time, and yet *^ so slowly that the world 
cannot call it murder." 

In point of climate, I believe Charleston is fully 
worse than New Orleans. In the latter, Creoles are 
entirely exempt from the ravages of the prevailing 
endemic. But in Charleston, there is no impunity 
for any class. Even native Carolinians die of fever 
as well as their neighbours. The chances are that 
if a person from the country, however acclimated, 
sleeps in Charleston even for a night, at a certain 
season of the year, he catches the fever. Should a 
person living in the city pass a day with his friend 
in the country, there is not a doctor in the place, 
who, on his return, would not consider him in a 
state of peril. In short, the people of Charleston pass 
their lives in endeavouring to escape from a pursuer 
who is sure to overtake the fugitive at last. At one 
season, the town is unhealthy ; and all who can 
afford it, fly to their estates. At another, the coun- 


try is unliealthvj and they take up their abode in 
the pine barrens. From the pine barrens, they 
venture back into the town, from which, in a short 
time, they are again expelled. 

In New Orleans, a man runs a certain risk, and 
has done with it. If he live, he continues to eat 
crawfish in a variety of savoury preparations. If 
he die, the crawfish eat him without cookery of any 
sort. He has no fear of dining with his friend in 
the country at any season of the year. But in 
Charleston, a man must be continually on the alert; 
for, go where he may, there is fever at his lieels. 
This continual dodging with death strikes me as 
very disagreeable; and if compelled to fix ray resi- 
dence in either city, I should certainly choose New 
Orleans in preference. This, however, is mere mat- 
ter of taste. 

I was unfortunate in the time of my visit to Char- 
leston. On the day after my arrival, I sent round a 
considerable number of letters, but found almost 
every body out of town. Of the society of Charles- 
ton, therefore, I can say little from personal obser- 

VOL. II. 2 A 


A^ation. But T have been assured from various quar- 
ters that it is very agreeable, and have no reason to 
doubt the accuracy of the statement. 

Finding Charleston in this deserted state, I at once 
determined on returning to New York. It had been 
my intention to perform the journey by land, but I 
was assured there was no object which would repay 
the inconveniences of the journey. The scenery was 
precisely similar to that of which I had already seen 
so much ; the people not materially different ; and I 
confess I had become sick to the very soul, of stage- 
coach travelling in the south. 

My plans, however, were yet undecided, when, 
walking along one of the quays, I saw the blue Peter 
flying from the topmast head of a New York packet. 
The temptation was irresistible. I went on board, 
secured berths, and in less than an hour bade fare- 
well to Charleston from the deck of the Saluda. 

During my hurried progress through the Southern 
States, I was rarely brought into contact with men 
of opulence and intelligence. Indeed I much ques- 
tion whether Alabama and Georgia possess any con- 
siderable class of gentlemen, in the sense in wliich 


that term is applicable to the better order of the 
inhabitants of the northern cities. But in South 
Carolina it is otherwise. There is a large body of 
landed proprietors, who are men of education and 
comparative refinement ; and who, though publicly 
adv^ocating the broadest principles of democracy, are 
in private life aristocratic and exclusive. Like the 
Virginians, they are of blood purely English, and 
disposed to relinquish no claim, which a descent 
from several generations of respectable ancestors can 
be understood to confer. 

The poles are not more diametrically opposed, than 
a native of the States south of the Potomac, and a Ne vv^- 
Englander. They differ in every thing of thought, 
feeling, and opinion. The latter is a man of regular 
and decorous habits, shrewd, intelligent, and perse- 
vering ; phlegmatic in temperament, devoted to the 
pursuits of gain, and envious of those who are more 
successful than himself. The former — I speak oF 
the opulent and educated — is distinguished by a 
high-mindedness, generosity, and hospitality, by no 
means predicable of his more eastern neighbours. 
He values money only for the enjoyments it can 


])rocure5 is fond of gaiety, given to social pleasures, 
somewhat touchy and choleric, and as eager to 
avenge an insult as to show a kindness. To fight 
a duel in the New England States would, under 
almost any circumstances, be disgraceful. To refuse 
a challenge, to tolerate even an insinuation deroga- 
tory from personal honour, would be considered 
equally so in the South. 

In point of manner, the Southern gentlemen 
are decidedly superior to all others of the Union. 
Being more dependent on social intercourse, they 
are at greater pains perhaps to render it agree- 
able. There is more spirit and vivacity about 
them, and far less of that prudent caution, which, 
liowever advantageous on the exchange, is by no 
means prepossessing at the dinner-table, or in the 
drawing-room. When at Washington, I was a 
good deal thrown into the society of members from 
the South, and left it armed, by their kindness, 
with a multitude of letters, of which I regret that 
my hurried progress did not permit me to avail my- 
self. Many of them were men of much accomplish- 
ment, and I think it probable that Englishmen 


unconnected with business would generally prefer 
the society of gentlemen of this portion of the Union 
to any other which the country affords. 

In passing the bar, the Saluda unfortunately ran 
aground, but w^as soon floated by the returning tide. 
No other accident occurred. Our voyage was pros- 
perous, and the pleasure of inhaling the pure sea- 
breeze, instead of an atmosphere poisoned by marsh 
exhalations, very great. In six days, I had the satis- 
faction of again finding myself at New York. 

286 NEW YORK. 



In one respect New York was somewhat diflPerent 
from what 1 remembered it. The gay season had 
passed. There were no routs, no balls, few parties 
of any sort ; all was gravity and family seclusion. 
Some families had removed to the country ; others 
were preparing for a trip to Canada or Boston. Still 
I had the good fortune to encounter many of my 
former friends, with whom I enjoyed the pleasure 
of renewing my intercourse. 

I believe this pleasure, unsupported by reasons of 
greater cogency, made me imagine a fortnight's 
breathing- time to be necessary, between the journey 
just accomplished, and that which I yet meditated 
to Niagara and Quebec. Nothing of any conse- 


quence, however, occurred during this interval ; and 
as I always found the flight of time to be unusually 
rapid at New York, the period fixed for departure 
soon came. 

On the 30th of May I ran up the Hudson to West 
Point, about fifty miles from New York. Tlie sce- 
nery, now clad in all the verdure of summer, certainly 
transcended every thing I had ever seen on a scale 
so extensive. What struck me as chiefly admirable, 
was the fine proportion of the diff'erent features of the 
landscape. Taken separately, they were not much. 
Every one has seen finer rocks and loftier moun- 
tains, and greater magnificence of forest scenery, 
but the charm lay in the combination, in that 
exquisite harmony of detail which produces — if I 
may so write^ — a synthetic beauty of the highest 

" 'Tis not a lip or cheek, we beauty call, 
But the joint force, andfvM result of all." 

The Hudson, in truth, is one of nature's felicities. 
Every thing is in its proper place, and of the dimen- 
sions most proper to contribute to the general effect. 
Add elevation to the mountains, and the consequence 


of the river would be diminished. Increase the ex- 
panse of the river, and you impair the grandeur of the 
mountains. As it is, there is perfect subordination 
of parts, and the result is something on which the 
eye loves to gaze, and the heart to meditate, which 
tinges our dreams with beauty, and often in distant 
lands will recur, unbidden, to the imagination. 

At West Point is a national establishment for 
the education of young men destined for the army. 
I had letters to Colonel Thayer, the commandant, 
a clever and intelligent officer, who has made it 
his pleasure, as well as his business, to acquire an 
intimate knowledge of tactic in all its branches. By 
him, I was conducted over the establishment, and in 
the system of discipline and education found much 
to approve. The cadets wear uniform, and are 
habitually inured to the disagreeables — so I remem- 
ber I used to think them — of garrison duty. In the 
evening the young gentlemen displayed their pro- 
ficiency in practical gunnery, and with some light 
pieces made several good shots at a target across the 
river. The distance, I believe, was about eight hun- 
dred yards. The guns, however, were not served in 


a military manner, nor with that speed and regular- 
ity which are essential to the practical efficiency of 
the arm. 

I may also ohserve, that the carriage of the cadets 
was less soldierlike than might he wished. In most 
of them, I remarked a certain slouch about the 
shoulders, w^hich demanded the judicious applica- 
tion of back boards and dumb bells. But, in truth, 
the remark is applicable to the whole population. 
Colonel Thayer himself is almost the only man 
whom I chanced to encounter in my travels, who 
appeared to me to possess any thing of the true mili- 
tary bearing. In him it was perfect. I believe 
he might brave the criticism of a Sergeant-Major 
of the Guards. 

Having passed a pleasant day at West Point, I 
proceeded to Dr Hosack's, about thirty miles distant. 
I had before visited Hyde Park in the depth of win- 
ter, I now^ beheld its fine scenery adorned by the 
richest luxuriance of verdure. Poet or painter could 
desire nothing more beautiful. There are several 
villas in the neighbourhood tenanted by very agree- 
able families, and had it been necessary to eat lotus 

VOL. II. 2 B 


iu the United States, I should certainly have se- 
lected Hyde Park as the scene of my repast. But 
I had determined on returning to England in the 
course of the summer, and was therefore anxious to 
proceed on my journey. On the third day, I bade 
farewell to my kind friends — for so I trust they will 
permit me to call them — and again embarked on 
the Hudson. 

The scenery above Hyde Park assumes a new 
character. The river leads through a gently undu- 
lating country, and its banks present a succession of 
agreeable villas. I passed the Catskill mountains 
with regret. Their aspect is fine and commanding, 
and I was assured the views from the summit are 
very splendid. I was yet undecided whether I should 
visit them, when a summons to dinner occasioned 
an adjournment of the debate. When I returned 
to the deck, we had passed the Catskill landing- 
place, and I continued my route to Albany. 

Albany is the capital of the State of New York. 
It is finely situated on the brow of a hill which 
rises from the margin of the river. On the summit 
stands the State-house, grandiloquently called the 

ALBANY. 291 

Capitol, a building of some extent but no beauty. 
None of the public buildings present any thing re- 
markable, but the town has an antique appearance, 
rare in this country, and contains some of the pri- 
mitive and picturesque buildings erected by the 
Dutch settlers. The streets struck me as being 
particularly clean, and the general aspect of the 
place is pleasing. 

I had heard much of a Shaker village in the 
neighbourhood, and the day following being Sunday, 
I drove to it with the view of seeing their form of 
worship. The name of this peaceful settlement is 
Niskayuma, and its inhabitants possess a valuable 
estate of about two thousand acres, which their 
labour has brought into high cultivation. These 
simple enthusiasts hold every thing in common, and 
their tenets, so far as I could understand them, are 
curious enough. 

Anne Lee, a woman who came to America many 
years ago, and brought with her the gift of tongues 
and of prophecy, is the object of peculiar venera- 
tion- With such evidences of inspiration, she of 
course became the founder of a sect. Though her- 


self the wife of an honest blacksmith, Mrs Lee in- 
culcated the indispensable necessity of absolute and 
entire celibacy, which, on spiritual grounds, she 
maintained to be essential to salvation. Sensual en- 
joyment of every kind was expressly forbidden, and 
though such tenets were little calculated to allure 
the fair or the young, Mother Anne contrived to 
gather about her a society of disappointed maidens 
and withered bachelors, — of all, in short, who, having 
survived the age of passion, were content to make a 
merit of resigning pleasures in which they could no 
longer participate. The number of her followers 
was increased by the accession of a few less anti- 
quated enthusiasts, and an occasional accouchement 
among the fair sisterhood affords matter of jest to 
the profane. Mother Anne has long gone the way 
of all flesh, but her memory is yet " green in the 
souls " of her follow^ers, who speak of her as a pure 
incarnation of the Divine Spirit. 

When I arrived, public worship had already com- 
menced, and the congregation were engaged in sing- 
ing. The music was monotonous, and the words 
nonsense, or something nearly approaching it. Ti»e 


men were drawn up on one side of the chapel and 
the women on the other. The latter were the veriest 
scarecrows I had ever seen in the female form. Thev 
were old and cadaverous, with the exception of one 
bright- eyed girl, whose expression bespoke a tempe- 
rament little fitted for the ascetic abstinence of her 
sect. The men were poor-looking creatures enough, 
but their appearance, on the whole, was a little bet- 
ter than that of the women. 

Both, however, were critically clean. The men 
were without coats, but rejoiced in snuff-coloured 
waistcoats and unimaginables, and white neckcloths. 
The charms of the women were displayed in grey 
gowns, and white muslin handkerchiefs, and caps 
nicely plaited. 

The singing concluded, we had something like a 
sermon. One of the brethren advanced to the centre 
of the room or chapel, and commenced in a calm 
deliberate tone, as follows : — 

" We can do nothing of ourselves. Every thing 
good in us is the gift of God. Yet man is very fond 
of relying on himself and his own efforts, and almost 
all those who have been distinguished by spiritual 


gifts, through all the ages of the world, have had this 
grand defect in their character. But the truth is, 
my brethren, we are all helpless without the gift of 
grace, and if we, who have separated ourselves from 
the world, retiring from its temptations, and re- 
nouncing its pomps and vices, find ground for spi- 
ritual pride in this devotion of ourselves to the ser- 
vice of God, we are guilty of a very great sin, and a 
sin more unpardonable in us than others, because our 
light is greater. I would impress this on you, there- 
fore, not to be vainglorious on account of the favour 
you have found in the sight of God, but to go on 
steadily, humbly, gratefully, and submissively, look- 
ing neither to the right hand nor the left, remember- 
ing always that your kingdom is not of this world, 
but of another and a better. Thank God for all his 
mercies, my brethren, but be not therefore puffed up." 
After this we had another song, quite as nonsen- 
sical as the former, which was followed by a second 
discourse. The preacher on this occasion was a fat 
jolly-looking man, whose comfortable plight formed 
something of a contrast with the mummy-like aspect 
of his brethren. The only remarkable portion of 



the discourse was the peroration, in which he ad- 
dressed himself particularly to those, who, like my- 
self, had visited the meeting from motives of mere 

« Strangers, I would address myself to you. What 
motives brought you to this place of worship, I know 
not. Some may have come to join in our devotion?, 
hut the greater part of you, I fear, have come only to 
see the peculiarities of our worship. To this we do 
not object. We court no concealment in any thing 
we do, but we demand of you in return, that you 
offer no indecent interruption to our religious so- 
lemnities. I beseech you to remember that we are 
Christians like yourselves— that we are engaged in 
offering adoration to the great God who nishioned 
us all as we are. If you do not respect us, respect 
yourselves ; and however ridiculous our forms may 
appear to you, we entreat that you will at least not 
interrupt our devotional exercises by any demon- 
stration of contempt." 

After such an appeal it became impossible for the 
most graceless spectator to offer any thing like insult 
to these simple fanatics. During the dance which 


followed, however, I confess I bad a good deal of 
difficulty in maintaining due composure. On a 
given signal the whole congregation began singing 
and dancing with all their vigour. I observed that 
the more youthful and active introduced a few super- 
erogatory gyrations, which were not attempted by 
the senior members ; and one boy in particular sig- 
nalized himself by a series of spirited saltations, not 
very dissimilar to the Highland fling. My atten- 
tion, too, was attracted by the two preachers, who, 
though somewhat fallen into " the sere, the yellow 
leaf," kept capering about with the lightness and grace 
of cart-horses, till the very end of the performance. 

The dance lasted for about a quarter of an hour, 
and I could not help sympathizing with the suffer- 
ing performers. The weather was intensely hot, 
and the whole corps de ballet were thrown by their 
movements into a state of the most profuse perspi- 
ration. This circumstance produced a change in 
the condition of the atmosphere by no means plea- 
sant, and, without waiting the conclusion of the 
service, I took my departure. 

From the Shaker settlement I drove to the Co- 


hoes Falls, about five miles distant. The Mohawk, 
a river about as large as the Severn, comes foaming 
down, throws itself over a precipice of about se- 
venty feet with great majesty, and then flows calmly 
onward to its confluence with the Hudson. The 
sight was very noble, and after enjoying it about 
half an hour, I set out on my return to Albany. 

The junction of the Champlain and Erie canals, 
near Troy, is considered a sight to which the admi- 
ration of travellers is justly due. Why, I know not. 
To my ignorant vision there seemed nothing remark- 
able. The canals are united, and there is an end of 
it. Of the amount of difficulties overcome I do not 
pretend to be qualified to judge. 

A little above Troy I observed a crowd collected 
on the river, and found they were attracted by the 
ceremony of baptism, which two Baptist clergymen 
were performing on sundry proselytes. The first 
subject of immersion was an old lady, whose 
cold and shivering appearance excited my com- 
passion. She was led in by one of the clergy- 
men till the water reached her middle, when they 
both — somewhat rudely, I thought — seized the dow- 


ager by the shoulders, and throwing her back with 
a sudden jerk, soused her over head and ears in the 
water before she seemed aware of their intentions. 
Luckily, the poor woman escaped absolute suffoca- 
tion, and with an aspect something like that of a 
drowned rat, was supported to the shore. Her suf- 
ferings, however, did not terminate here. The 
word snuff was written on the nose of one of the 
clergymen so legibly, that he who ran might read. 
I observed that immediately after employing his 
pocket-handkerchief in its most appropriate function, 
he applied it to the eyes of the patient matron ! This 
was even worse than the ducking 

At Albany a traveller has the choice of proceed- 
ing by stage-coach or canal I preferred the former, 
and accordingly secured places for Utica. The 
coach was full, and the heat so excessive, that till 
we reached Schenectady, I do not know that I ever 
experienced greater suffering. There, however, our 
fellow-travellers embarked on the canal, and the 
rest of the journey was performed in comparative 
comfort. The road — one of the roughest lever travel- 
led — winds along the banks of the Mohawk, througli 

UTICA. 299 

a country which presents many noble features. In 
point of cultivation, however, it appeared very in- 
ferior to what might he expected in so populous a 
district. The greater part of the journey was per- 
formed by night, yet not in darkness, for we had the 
light of a brilliant moon, which softened without 
obscuring the landscape. 

About eleven o'clock on the following morning, 
we reached Utica, a handsome and flourishing town, 
which exhibits every external mark of prosperity. 
After dinner I engaged what is called an " extra ex- 
clusive" to convey me to Trenton Falls, a distance 
of fifteen miles. We did not reach Trenton till 
after nightfall, and I was obliged to delay the grati- 
fication of my curiosity till the following morning. 
The inn, however, was very comfortable, and after 
the jolting of the previous night, the attractions of 
clean sheets and a well-stuffed mattrass were by 
no means inconsiderable. After breakfast on the 
following morning, I sallied forth to visit the falls. 
They are formed by the West Canada creek in its pas- 
sage through a glen or ravine about two miles in 
length, in the course of which it descends about three 


hundred feet. As may be supposed in such circum- 
stances, the stream rushes onward with great vio~ 
lence. There are several falls, none of which are 
without beauty, and the whole scenery struck me as 
bearing strong resemblance to that of Roslin glen, 
to which, except in romantic associations, it is in 
nothing inferior. 

The fall which pleased me most is one in which 
the torrent takes a double leap, the last of which is 
about forty feet. The surrounding rocks are grand 
and precipitous, and their crevices afford nourish- 
ment to trees which are writhed into a thousand 
fantastic forms. There is one sad drawback, how- 
ever. At precisely the most beautiful point of the 
scene there has been erected — what, good reader? 
— but you will never guess — a dram shop ! 

How utterly so wild and beautiful a scene is 
degraded by the presence of a drinking shop may 
readily be conceived ; and the outrage on taste ; and 
even decency, is the more gratuitous, since the spot 
on which the building is erected is not above a mile 
from the hotel. 

On such occasions one is betrayed unawares into 


writing' strongly. But cui bono ? A writer may ap- 
peal to a moral sense, but he cannot create one; and 
assuredly the man whose imagination turns to the 
brandy bottle, even when gazing on the noble sce- 
nery of Trenton, will think of it in the death-agony. 
Being still sore from the jolting of the stage-coach, 
I determined to proceed by the canal, and at two 
o'clock on the following day went on board the pas- 
sage-boat. There were about forty passengers ; the 
heat of the cabin was intolerable. Driven from with- 
in, I took a seat on deck, but without diminution of 
suifering. I found myself exposed to the full fervour 
of the sun, and the boards were literally burning to 
the feet. Add to this the nuisance of the numerous 
bridges, the ai'ches of which are barely high enough 
to admit the passage of the boat, and leave to the 
passengers only the option of descending every time 
they approach one, or of being swept off by a more 
summary process. 

Tlie country through which we passed consisted 
chiefly of marshy forest, such as I had traversed for 
many a weary league in the south. Every here and 
there a town had sprung up in the wilderness, but 


with nothing to interest the spectator, who sees 

everywhere hut one process and one result. He 

looks for the picturesque, and finds the profitahle, 

and wishes from the bottom of his heart they had 

been found compatible. 

The Americans are dilettanti in nomenclature. In 

following the course of the Erie Canal, a traveller 

will pass through Troy, Amsterdam, Frankfort, 

Manlius, Syracuse, Canton, Jordan, Port Byron, 

Montezuma, Rome, Smith's, Dumkin's, Carthage, 

Salina, Rochester, Ogden, Geddes, and Palmyra. 

The Eternal City here dwindles into " a half-shire 

town, which contains a court-house and gaol, and is 

pleasantly situated on the old canal !" So says the 

guide-book. Amsterdam is more fortunate, for it 

boasts '* a post-office, a church, and about fifty houses 

or stores." Palmyra is charmingly located on Mud 

Creek. Carthage derived its consequence from a 

bridge which " fell under the pressure of its own 

weight." The maxim, delenda est Carthago, therefore, 

is likely to be realized in the new world as well as in 

the old. 

Such absurdities are fair game, for they have their 



origin in vanity. To adorn their cities by monu- 
ments of art is an expensive indulgence, from which 
Americans are content to abstain. But pretension 
of name costs nothing, and is found everywhere. 

During the day the number of passengers increased 
to about sixty, including twenty ladies; and where 
this large party were to be stowed for the night, it 
was not easy to anticipate. In the cabin there was 
no appearance of sleeping berths by day, but at night 
ranges of shelves were put up, and the chairs, benches, 
and tables, were all converted into beds. The portion 
of the cabin destined for the use of the ladies 
was obscured from observation by a curtain. In 
order to prevent partiality, there was a sort of lot- 
tery, in which each person drew forth a number 
which determined his position for the night. For- 
tune fixed me on the table, and there I lay with the 
knee of one man thrust directly into my stomach, 
and with my feet resting upon the head of another. 
The sheets were offensively dirty, and the blankets 
not much better. 

The Americans dread the circulation of pure air ; 
and those in the vicinity of a window insisted on its 


being closed. Under these circumstances, the at- 
mosphere became not only hot, but poisonous, and 
the act of inhalation was performed with disgust. 
Then there were legions of mosquitoes, whose carni- 
val, from the use they made of it, seemed to have 
been preceded by a lent ; and to crown all, at least 
a dozen noses were snoring bass to an unmelodious 
treble which proceeded from the ladies' division of 
the cabin. 

One night of this kind was enough ; and so, at 
Montezuma, being anxious to see something of the 
smaller lakes, of ^vhose beauty I had heard a great 
deal, I removed into another packet-boat, and diver- 
ging into a branch canal which communicates with 
the Seneca lake, at night found myself in Geneva. 
The town makes a handsome display on an eminence 
near the northern extremity of the lake. It contains 
some three or four thousand inhabitants, several 
churches, and a school dignified by the name of a col- 
lege. Near to the lake are a few pretty villas, and in 
the town a considerable number of respectable houses, 
built of brick or stone. Geneva is the depot of the 
produce of the neighbouring country. It comes by 

GENEVA. 305 

the lake, and is then embarked on the canal for New 

Seneca is a fine sheet of water undoubtedly, but 
its scenery — so far as I saw it — presents nothing of 
remarkable beauty. It is about forty miles long, 
with a mean breadth of three or four. It is naA^i- 
gated by a steam-boat, in which, had the weather 
been cooler, I should probably have made a trip. 
As it was, the temptations of an arm-chair and a 
cool veranda were irresistible. 

The banks of the Seneca, like those of the Gare- 
loch, have been the chosen seat of miracles. Some 
years ago, a woman called Jemima Wilson, announ- 
ced herself as the Saviour of the world, and attracted 
a few followers somewhat more mad than herself. 
While her miraculous endowments were displayed 
only in the jabbering of unknown tongues, and 
unintelligible predictions, she stood on safe ground, 
but unluckily her ambition pointed to the honour of 
more palpable miracles. " Near Rapelyeas ferry," 
says the Northern Tourist, " the frame is still stand- 
ing which Jemima constructed to try the faith of 
her followers. Having approached within a few 

VOL. II. 2 c 


hundred yards of the shore, she alighted from an 
elegant carriage, and the road being strewed by her 
followers with white handkerchiefs, she walked to 
the platform, and having announced her intention 
of walking across the lake on the water, she stepped 
ankle-deep into the clear element, when suddenly 
pausing, she addressed the multitude, enquiring 
whether they had faith that she could pass over, 
for if otherwise, she could not ; and on recei\ang an 
affirmative answer, returned to her carriage, decla- 
ring, that as they believed in her power, it was 
unnecessary to display it." Miss Campbell, I be- 
lieve, with similar pretensions, has been equally 
prudent in putting them to the proof. 

On the night following, I left Geneva, by the 
Rochester stage. By day-dawn, we reached Canan- 
daigua, which stands at the northern extremity of a 
beautiful lake, of which I caught a few glimpses in 
the moonshine. Canandaigua is a pretty village, 
and certainly the situation has a good deal of charm. 
More attention seems to have been paid here than 
elsewhere, to external decoration. The better houses 
are surrounded by ornamental trees, and the num- 


ber of these is so considerable as to give a character 
to the place. In general, however, I have not been 
struck with, what in this country are called, " beau- 
tiful villages." These consist almost uniformly of 
rows of white framework houses, with green blinds 
and shutters ; but they are flimsy in point of mate- 
rial, and the colours are too glaring to harmonize 
with the surrounding scenery. 

We reached Rochester under the influence of a 
burning sun. The hotel was excellent, and the 
luxury of cold baths, and the civility of the landlord, 
induced me to delay progress till the following day. 
In the cool of the evening, I strolled out to see the 
falls of the Genesee. The height of tlie uppermost 
is considerable, being about ninety feet, and the 
water rushes over it gracefully enough, but the 
vicinity of sundry saw and corn mills has destroyed 
the romantic interest which invested it in the days 
when " the cataract blew his trumpet from the steep," 
amid the stillness of the surrounding forest. 

The old proverb de giistlbus, §*c. receives illustra- 
tion in every country. An eccentric man, called 
Sam Patch, having an aversion to honest industry. 


made it his profession to jump over all the waterfalls 
in the country. Niagara was too much for him, but 
he sprang from a lofty rock, some distance below the 
Horse-shoe fall, with impunity. His last jump was 
at the fall I have just described of the Genesee, in 
the autumn of 1829. From a scaffold elevated 
twenty-five feet above the table rock, making a 
descent altogether of a hundred and twenty-five 
feet, he fearlessly plunged into the boiling cauldron 
beneath. From the moment of his immersion, he 
was seen no more. His body was not discovered 
for many months, and was at length found at the 
mouth of the river, six miles below. 

Rochester is a place worth seeing. Twenty years 
ago there was not a house in the neighbourhood, and 
now there is a town, containing thirteen thousand 
good Americans and true, with churches, banks, 
theatres, and all other oppidan appurtenances to 
match. Such growth is more like forcing in a hot- 
bed, than the natural progress of human vegetation. 
For a great deal of its prosperity, Rochester is in- 
debted to the Erie canal, which brought its advan- 
tageous proximity to Lake Ontario into full play. 


The canal runs through the centre of the town, and 
crosses the Genesee by an aqueduct which, according 
to the Northern Tourist, " cost rising of 80,000 
dollars," whatever sum that may amount to. There 
are several streets in Rochester which might be 
backed at reasonable odds against any in Hull or 
Newcastle, to say nothing of Cork, Falmouth, or 
Berwick-upon-Tweed. The appearance of the shops 
indicates the prevalence of respectable opulence. 
Those of the jewellers display a stock of Paris trinkets 
and silver snuff-boxes. There are silks and Leghorn 
bonnets for the seduction of the ladies, and the 
windows of the tailors are adorned by coloured prints 
of gentlemen in tight fitting, swallow tails, with the 
epigraph, " New York fashions for May." 

After passing a comfortable day and night in the 
Eagle tavern, which I strongly recommend to all 
future travellers, I took my departure from Roches- 
ter in the Lockport stage. We travelled by the 
" ridge road," which is composed of hard sand, 
and extends along what has evidently in former 
times been the embankment of Ontario. This ridge 
road, therefore, is entirely of nature's making, and I 


shall die in the belief that it is the very best in the 
United States. The coach rolled on as smoothly as 
it could have done between London and St Albans, 
and I began to think of reading, to have attempted 
which, in other portions of my peregrination, would 
have been strongly indicative of insanity. 

I am aware of little which merits record in the 
journey to Lockport, except the unwonted luxury in 
which it was performed. Towards evening, we 
passed a camp meeting, to which several of the pas- 
sengers directed their steps, and which, under other 
circumstances, I should have been glad to visit. We 
passed also several parties of what were called 
Mormonites, going to join a settlement established 
by their founder, in Ohio. Relative to this sect, of 
which I had never before heard, I gleaned the fol- 
lowing particulars from one of the passengers. A 
bankrupt store-keeper, whose name I think was 
Smith, had an extraordinary dream. It directed 
him to go alone to a particular spot, distinctly indi- 
cated, where he was to dig to a certain depth. This 
dream was of course treated as a mere delusion, 
and, as is usual in such cases, was thrice repeated. 


with denunciation of heavy punishment in case of 

In this emergency, Smith judged it more pru- 
dent to shoulder his spade, than by further obstinacy 
to excite the vengeance of some unearthly intelli- 
gence. Having dug to the requisite depth in the 
place commanded, he found a book with golden 
clasps and cover, and a pair of elegantly mounted 
spectacles, somewhat old-fashioned to be sure, but 
astonishing magnifiers, and possessing qualities 
which it might puzzle Sir David Brewster to explain 
on optical principles. 

Smith had some difficulty in undoing the clasps of 
this precious volume, but on opening it, though his 
eyes were good, it appeared to contain nothing but 
blank paper. It then occurred to him to fit on his 
spectacles, when, lo ! the whole volume was filled 
with certain figures and pot-hooks to him unintel- 
ligible. Delighted with his good fortune, Smith 
trudged home with the volume in his pocket and 
the spectacles on his nose, happy as bibliomaniac 
who has been lucky enough to purchase some rare 
Editio Princeps " dog cheap" from the ignorant pro- 


prietor of an obscure bookstall. On reaching his 
own house, his first care was to secure his miracu- 
lous treasures from profane observation; his second, 
to copy out a page or two of the characters, and 
look about for an interpreter. His search was long 
fruitless, but at length he hit on precisely the two 
individuals who were qualified conjointly for the 
office. One of these gentlemen possessed the faculty 
of reading the hieroglyphics, and the other of inter- 
preting them. It then appeared that the volume in 
question was entitled the book of Mormon, a con- 
verted Rabbi, who flourished in the days of our Sa- 
viour, or shortly after, and who, by the aid of divine 
inspiration, v.a-ote the treatise in question in eluci- 
dation of all the dark points of religion which, to 
the present day, continue to puzzle theologians. 

Smith's worldly prospects now brightened. With 
this invaluable treatise in his strong box, he com- 
menced business afresh, under the firm of Mormon, 
Smith, and Co , and appears to possess an unlimited 
credit on the credulity of his followers. He has set 
up an establishment something similar to that of Mr 



Owen, and already boasts a considerable number of 
opulent believers. 

We slept at Lockport, in a dirty and uncomfortable 
tavern. In the morning we were again in motion. 
iVt Lewiston, a village on the frontier, I quitted the 
stage, and despatched a messenger across the river to 
secure an extra exclusive for Niagara. The delay 
occasioned by breakfast to an impatient traveller is 
generally not great, and entering the ferry-boat, I 
soon found myself once more on British ground. 
At Queenston, judging from their accent, the majo- 
rity of the inhabitants are Scotch ; and certainly to 
my ear the Doric of my country never sounded so 
musical before. About a mile from the landing 
place, are the heights of Queenston, which, during 
the late war, were gallantly and successfully defended 
by a small body of British, under Sir Isaac Brock, 
against an American force nearly ten times their 
number. The latter, however, consisted chiefly of 
militia; and had the achievement not unfortunately 
been rendered memorable by the death of the Bri- 
tish leader, it would probably, like most other events 

VOL. II. 2 D 


of tlie war, have been forgotten. Its memory, bow- 
ever, bas been perpetuated by tbe erection of a trophy 
column on the summit of tbe height. It is com- 
posed of freestone, and about a bundred-and- twenty 
feet high. I am not sure that in point of architec- 
ture it is quite faultless. Tbe shaft struck me as 
wanting height in proportion to its diameter, and 
the general outline somewhat resembles that of an 
apothecary's phial. Were it surmounted by a statue, 
the effect would undoubtedly be improved. 

The Niagara at Queenston is about a quarter of a 
mile broad; the current is rapid, and the depth very 
great, — not less, I believe, than two hundred feet. 
The colour of the water is a nondescript and very 
beautiful shade between azure and green. The banks 
for several miles are high and precipitous, and co- 
vered with the primeval forest. 

Having reached Queenston, horses were imme- 
diately harnessed to a light open carriage, and we 
rattled off. The distance is about seven miles, and 
the road very tolerable. As we advanced, both eye 
and ear were awake to detect indication of our in- 
creasing proximity to the Falls. At length a cloud 


of white vapour, rising high above the foliage of the 
distant forest, announced the situation of the great 
cataract. Shortly after, I could detect a hollow 
rumbling sound like that of thunder; but though 
the distance was every instant diminishing, it did 
not proportionately increase in loudness or intensity. 

About twelve o'clock I found myself in Forsyth's 
hotel, a large and not uncomfortable house, about 
half-a-mile distant from the Great Horse shoe Fall. 
It stands upon a high level of table land, and from 
the upper balcony the Falls are distinctly visible. 
To a stranger visiting Niagara for the first time, 
I do not know that this circumstance is very desi- 
rable, and I confess the view did in my own case 
carry with it something of disappointment. The 
truth is, that from Forsyth's you see the upper por- 
tion of the Fall ; but at least one half of the descent, 
the boiling cauldron below, and the impenetrable 
mass of vapour w^th which it is sublimely and mys- 
teriously encanopied, you do not see. 

No sooner had I reached the hotel, than the morn- 
ing, which had been louring with dark and threaten- 
ing clouds, set in with an absolute tempest of wind 


and rain. It was impossible to rest, however, before 
gazing on the great wonder which I had travelled 
so far to behold ; so throwing on my cloak, I sallied 
forth, bidding defiance to the elements. The banks 
which descend to the bed of the river were very 
steep, and so slippery, that I encountered more than 
one tumble in my progress. But this was nothing ; 
and most amply was I repaid for all the troubles of 
my journey, when in a few minutes I found myself 
standing on the very brink of this tremendous yet 
most beautiful cataract. 

The spot from which I first beheld it was the 
Table rock, and of the effect produced by the over- 
whelming sublimity of the spectacle, it is not pos- 
sible to embody in words any adequate description. 
The spectator at first feels as if stricken with cata- 
lepsy. His blood ceases to flow, or rather is sent 
back in overpowering pressure on the heart. He 
gasps, " like a drowning man," to catch a mouth- 
ful of breath. " All elements of soul and sense " 
are absorbed in the magnitude and glory of one 
single object. The past and future are obliterated, 
and he stands mute and powerless, in the presence 


of that scene of awful splendour on which his gaze 
is riveted. 

In attempting to convey to those who have never 
visited the Falls, any notion of the impression which 
they produce, I helieve it impossible to escape the 
charge of exaggeration. The penalty is one which 
I am prepared to pay. But the objects presented by 
Niagara are undoubtedly among those which exer- 
cise a permanent influence on the imagination of the 
spectator. The day — the hour — the minute — when 
his eye first rested on the Great Horse-shoe Fall, is 
an epoch in the life of any man. He gazes on a scene 
of splendour and sublimity far greater than the un- 
aided fancy of poet or painter ever pictured. He has 
received an impression which time cannot diminish, 
and death only can efface. The results of that single 
moment will extend through a lifetime, enlarge the 
sphere of thought, and influence the whole tissue of 
his moral being. 

I remained on the Table rock till drenched to the 
skin, and still lingered in the hope that some flash of 
the lightning — which had become very vivid — might 
disclose the secrets of the cloudy and mysterious 


cauldron, into which the eye vainly endeavoured to 
penetrate. But I was disappointed. Far overhead 
the fearful revelry of the elements still continued; 
but the lightning seemed to shun all approach to 
an object of sublimity equal to its own. 

My window in the hotel commanded a view of the 
Falls, and their deep and hollow roar was at all times 
distinctly audible. I mention this, because, during 
the whole period of my stay, the circumstance was 
accompanied by serious annoyance.' At night it was 
impossible to enjoy any thing which could be called 
sleep. Whenever I closed my eyes, there was a tor- 
rent foaming before them. Amid the darkness of 
midnight I was still gazing on the Horse-shoe, and 
the noise of the cataract, mingling with these visions 
of a perturbed imagination, contributed to keep up 
the delusion. My dreams w^ere of rapids and water- 
falls, and the exhaustion produced by this state 
of continual fever became so great, that by day I 
often wandered to the quiet recesses of the forest, 
where, undisturbed by the din of waters, I might 
enjoy a comfortable nap. 

On the day after my arrival, the weather having 


fortunately become fine, my hours wore devoted to 
the Horse- slioc, which I viewed from every favour- 
able point. About half a mile below, there is a shantee 
or log tavern, where brandy is attainable by gentle- 
men of sluggish temperament, who, surrounded by 
such objects, still require the stimulus of alcohol. 
From this tavern there is a circular wooden stair 
which leads down into the bed of the river, and on 
descending, I found myself at once immersed in a 
region of eternal moisture. By dint of scrambling 
along the debris of the overhanging rocks, I con- 
trived to approach within a short distance of the Fall ; 
and so powerful is the impression here produced, 
that a considerable time elapses before the spectator 
can command his faculties in a sufficient degree to 
examine its details. He stands amid a whirlwind 
of spray, and the gloom of the abyss, the dark firma- 
ment of rock which threatens destruction to the 
intruder, the terrors of the descending torrent, the 
deep thunder of its roar, and the fearful convulsion 
of the waters into which it falls, constitute the fea- 
tures of a scene, the sublimity of which undoubtedly 
extends to the very verge of horror. 


The epithet of " the Horse-shoe" is no longer 
applicable to the greater Fall. In the progress of 
those clianges which are continually taking place 
from the attrition of the cataract, it has assumed a 
form which I should describe as that of a semi- 
hexagon. The vast body of water in the centre of 
this figure, descends in one unbroken sheet of vivid 
green, and contrasts finely with the awful pertur- 
bation of the cauldron. But towards either extre- 
mity it is diiFerent. The water there, at the very 
commencement of its descent, is shivered into par- 
ticles inconceivably minute, and assumes a thousand 
beautiful forms of spires and pinnacles, radiant with 
prismatic colours. 

In the vast receptacle beneath, the water is so 
comminuted, and blended with air carried down by 
the cascade— probably to the depth of many hundred 
feet — that none but substances of the greatest buoy- 
ancy could possibly float on it. The appearance of 
the surface is very remarkable. It is that of finely 
triturated silver, in which, though the particles are 
in close proximity, there is no amalgamation. The 
whole mass is in convulsive and furious agitation. 


and continues so until, having receded to a consider- 
able distance, the commotion gradually diminishes, 
and the water reassumes its ordinary appearance. 

It is possible to advance to a considerable distance 
behind the cascade, and I determined to accomplish 
the achievement. Having marshalled my energies 
for the undertaking, I continued to advance, but 
the tempest of dense spray became suddenly so 
violent as apparently to preclude the possibility of 
further progress. I was driven back several yards, 
half suffocated and entirely blinded. But the guide 
encouraged me to proceed, and accordingly, Teucro 
duce, I made another and more successful effort. 
Having penetrated behind the Fall, the only footing 
was a ledge of rock about two feet broad, which 
was occasionally narrowed by projections in the 
face of the cliff. But even under these circumstances 
the undertaking is one of difficulty, rather than of 
danger. A great portion of the air carried down 
by the cataract is immediately disengaged, and the 
consequence is, that an intruder has to encounter a 
strong breeze which blows upwards from the caul- 
dron, and sometimes even dashes him with unplea- 


sant violence against the rock along which he is 
scrambling. As a practical illustration of this, our 
conductor plunged fearlessly down the precipitous 
rock to the very edge of the gulf, and was imme- 
diately blown back, with little effort of his own, to 
our narrow pathway. 

At length, having advanced about fifty yards, the 
guide informed me that further progress was im- 
possible. I had certainly no objection to retrace 
my steps, for my lungs played with extreme diffi- 
culty, and the hurricane of wind and spray seemed 
to threaten utter extinction of sight. It was im- 
possible, however, to depart without gazing on the 
wonder I had visited. Far overhead was a canopy 
of rock ; behind the perpendicular cliff. In froLt, the 
cascade — a glorious curtain — seemed tohang between 
us and the world. One's feelings were those of a 
prisoner. But never, surely, was there so magnifi- 
cent a dungeon ! 

The noise of the great cataract is certainly far 
less than might be expected. Even at its very 
brink, conversation may be carried on without any 
considerable elevation of the voice. The sound 


is that of tlmnder in its greatest intensity, deep, 
unbroken, and unchanging. There is no hissing 
nor splashing ; nothing which breaks sharply on the 
ear ; nothing which comes in any degree into colli- 
sion with the sounds of earth or air. Nothing 
extrinsic can either add to, or diminish its volume. 
It mingles with no other voice, and it absorbs none. 
It would be heard amid the roaring of a volcano, 
and yet does not drown the chirping of a sparrow. 

Visitors generally wish, however, for a greater 
crash on the tympanum, for something to stun and 
stupify, and return home complaining that Niagara 
is less noisy than Trenton or the Cohoes. This is a 
mistake. The volume of sound produced by the 
Horse- shoe Fall, is far greater than they ever heard 
before, or probably will ever hear again. When 
the atmosphere is in a condition favourable to act 
as a conductor of sound, it may be heard at a dis- 
tance of fifteen, and even twenty miles. A pas- 
senger in the coach, who lived six miles beyond 
Lewiston, assured me, that in particular states of 
the barometer, the noise was there distinctly per- 
ceptible. But it should be remembered that the 


great body of sound is generated in a cavern far 
below tlie level of tlie surrounding country, and 
fenced in on tbree sides by walls of perpendicular 
rock. The noise vibrates from side to side of this 
sunless cavity, and only a small portion escapes into 
the upper air, through the dense canopy of spray 
and vapour by which it is overhung. As an expe- 
riment, I employed a man to fire a musket below, 
while I stood on the Table rock. The report was 
certainly audible, but scarcely louder than that of a 

Having devoted three days to the Horse-shoe, I 
rode up the river to survey its course above the 
Falls. Shortly after issuing from Lake Erie, the 
Niagara is divided by a huge island about seven 
miles in length. Lower is another island, of smaller 
dimensions, and having passed these, the river is 
about two miles in breadth, and tranquil as a lake. 
At Chippewa, about three miles above the Falls, 
navigation terminates. A short distance below, the 
stream evidently begins to accelerate its motion. 
There are no waves, however, nor is there any 
violent agitation of the current ; nothing, in short. 


which seems to presage the scene of terrific agitation 
so soon to ensue. Further down is Goat Island, 
which divides the river into two branches, and forms 
the separation between the Falls. It is at the higher 
extremity of this island, that the rapids commence. 
The grandeur of these rapids is worthy of the ca- 
taracts in which they terminate. In the greater 
branch, the river comes foaming down with prodi- 
gious impetuosity, and presents a surface of agitated 
billows, dashing wildly through the rocks and islands. 
This scene of commotion continues till within about 
thirty yards of the Fall. There the great body of 
the stream resumes its tranquillity, and in solemn 
grandeur descends into the cloudy and unfathomable 
abyss. Never was there a nobler prelude to a sub- 
lime catastrophe ! 

I at length crossed to the American side. If there 
were no Horse-shoe Fall, the American would be the 
wonder of the world. Seen from below it is very 
noble. The whole body of water is at once shattered 
into foam, and comes down in a thousand feathery 
and fantastic shape?, w^iich, in a bright sunshine— 
as I beheld them— were resplendently beautiful. 


But tlie form of the American fall is unfortunate. 
A straight line is never favourahle to beauty, and 
the cataract descends, not into a dark abyss of con- 
vulsed and fathomless waters, but amid fragments of 
rock, from which it again rushes onward to the main 
bed of the river. In short, a traveller from the Ca- 
nadian side has very little disposable admiration to 
lavish on this splendid object, and generally regards 
it with a cold and negligent eye. 

In order to reach Goat Island, it is necessary to 
cross two bridges. One of these certainly is a very 
remarkable work. It leads across a rapid of tre- 
mendous velocity, and does honour to the engineer 
by whom it was constructed. Goat Island is covered 
with wood, and by the public spirit of its proprietor. 
General Porter, has been intersected with walks, 
trending to the different points from which the finest 
views may be commanded. From this island, a 
bridge — or rather pier — has been erected, which 
leads the spectator to a point where the frail struc- 
ture on which he stands is directly over the great 
abyss of the Horse-shoe. As a trial of nerve, this is 
very well. The man, assuredly, has strong ones, who, 


from the extremity of this platform, can look beneath 
without quivering in every muscle. The prevailing 
feeling is that of horror, and a spectator partial to 
inordinate excitement, may here get enough of it. 
But his eye can rest only oa a small portion of the 
Fall, and the position is decidedly unfavourable for 
pictorial effect. 

The bridge is but a fragile structure, and vibrates 
with every motion, especially at the extremity where 
it is necessarily without support. I stood there for 
about a quarter of an hour, and should probably have 
remained longer, but the near approach of a gentle- 
man, whose dimensions indicated a weight of twenty 
stone, induced me to retrace my steps with all con- 
venient speed. 

In the neighbourhood of tlu Falls, one can think 
of nothing else. They affect all thoughts and impul- 
ses, the waking reverie, and the midnight dream. 
Every day of ray stay it was the same. Scarcely was 
breakfast concluded, when, putting a book in my 
pocket, I sallied down to the river, to lose and ne- 
glect the creeping hours of time, in the neighbour- 
hood of the Horse-shoe. About a quarter of a mile 



above, the stream had deposited a number of huge 
trees, and I employed several men to launch them 
successively into the stream, while I stood on the 
extreme point of the Table rock to observe their 
descent. One by one, the vast masses — each fit for 
the mast of " some high ammlral " — came floating 
down, sometimes engulfed in the foaming eddies, 
sometimes driven with fury against the rocks, and 
then rushing onward w^ith increased velocity, till, 
reaching the smooth water, the forest giants were 
floated slowly onward to the brink of the precipice, 
when they were seen no more. 

Nothing which enters the awful cauldron of the 
Fall, is ever seen to emerge from it. Of three gun- 
boats which, some years after the termination of the 
war, were sent over the Falls, one fragment only, 
about a foot in length, ever was discovered. It was 
found near Kingston, about a month after the de- 
scent of the vessels.* 

* Before quittiug the subject of tlie Falls, I would willingly say some- 
thing which may be of use to future visitors. It is usual with these per- 
sons to take up their abode at Manchester, and give the first day or two 
to the American Fall, and Goat Island, This strikes me as bad policy. 
The American Fall is just fine enough to impair the subsequent impres- 


The country around Niagara is picturesque, and 
in a fine state of cultivation. English habits of 
agriculture evidently prevail. There is a greater ap- 
pearance of neatness than I have seen anywhere in 
the United States. The fences are in excellent order, 

sionofthe Horse-slioe. By adhering to this routine, visitors come to the 
latter with an appetite partially sated, and the effect of the first burst of 
this sublime object is diminished. I would advise all travellers, there- 
fore, to proceed first to Forsyth's, but by no means to indulge in any 
preliminary view of the Falls from the windows or balcony. Let the visi- 
tor repair at once to the Table rock, and there receive his first impres- 
sion of the cataract. I would recommend him next to proceed lower down 
on the Canadian side, where there are many points from which he may 
become master of the general grouping of the landscape. His attention 
may then be directed to the rapids ; and to see them to advantage, he should 
walk as far as Chippewa, and return— with a little scrambling and wading 
it is very possible— by the margin of the river. On the day following, let 
him descend to the bed of the river, and gaze on the cataract from below. 
Having done this, he may cross to the American side, and from midway 
on the river, he Avill see the only view of the Falls which I think it pos- 
sible for the painter to give with any thing like adequate effect. Nothing, 
in truth, can be more splendid than the amphitheatre of cataracts by 
which he there seems almost surrounded. 

With regard to the time which a traveller should give to the Falls, it is 
impossible to fix on any definite period. The imagination requires 
some time to expand itself, in order to take in the vastness of the 
objects. At first, the agitation of nerve is too great. A spectator can 
on\y gaze — he cannot contemplate. For some days the impression of their 
glory and magnitude will increase ; and so long as this is the case, let him 
remain. His time could not be better spent. He is hoarding up a store 
VOL. II. 2 E 


and the fields are not disfigured by stumps of decay- 
ing timber. The farms are in general large ; many 
contain two hundred acres of cleared land, and their 
owners are reputed wealthy. I dined with one of 
these gentlemen, and found comfort combined with 
hospitality. But of the lower orders in the Upper 
Province, it is impossible to speak favourably. They 
have all the disagreeable qualities of the Americans, 
with none of that energy, and spirit of enterprise, 
which often convert a bad man into a useful citizen. 
They are sluggish, obstinate, ignorant, offensive in 
manner, and depraved in morals, without loyalty 
and without religion. Of course, in a country to 
which the tide of emigration sets in so strongly, and 

of sublime memories for his whole future life. But intimacy — such is our 
nature — soon degenerates into familiarity. He will at length begin to gaze 
on the scene around him with a listless eye. His imagination, in short, is 
palled with excess of excitement. Let him watch for this crisis, and 
whenever he perceives it, pack up his portmanteau and depart. Niagara 
can do nothing more for him, and it should be his object to bear with 
him the deepest and most intense impression of its glories. Let him dream 
of these, but return to them no more. A second visit could only tend to 
unsettle and efface the impression of the first. Were I within a mile of 
Niagara, I should turn my steps in the opposite direction. Every passing 
year diminishes our susceptibility, and who would voluntarily bring to 
such objects a cold heart, and faded imagination ? 


a mass of imported principle and intelligence is an- 
nually mingled with that of native growth, such 
observations must necessarily be limited in their 
application. I would be understood, therefore, as 
speaking chiefly of the older settlers, who consisted 
in a great measure of the refuse of disbanded regi- 
ments, and of adventurers who brought with them 
neither capital nor character. Of late years Canada 
has been enriched by the addition of a number of 
naval and military officers, whom these piping times 
of peace have left without professional employment. 
Men of property and enterprise have likewise em- 
barked large sums in the improvement of this fertile 
region ; the expenditure of the British government 
has enriched the province with works of great splen- 
dour and utility ; industry is unfettered, taxation 
almost unknown ; and with such elements of prospe- 
rity, Canada may now safely be trusted to her own 




Having passed a week at Niagara, aud seen the 
Falls under every aspect, in cloud and sunshine, in 
storm and calm, by star and moonlight, I took my 
departure. About four miles below is a very remark- 
able whirlpool, which I visited on my way to Fort 
George. This whirlpool is caused by the protrusion 
of a bed of rock across the rectilinear course of the 
river. The stream comes down with great impetu- 
osity, and, when driven back by this obstacle, the cur- 
rent whirls round the basin with prodigious violence, 
and at length escapes in a direction nearly at right 
angles with its former course. The water has the 
appearance of molten lead, and the people in the 


neighbourhood declare that from the eddies of this 
vortex nothing living can escape. Even boats have 
been absorbed by them, and, when this happens, 
there is no possibility of help from the shore. The 
boat upsets, and the men are drowned; or if not, the 
boat is kept whirling round with the stream for 
perliaps a fortnight together, and the men are 
starved. Such were stated to be the horns of the 

Fort George is a military station at the mouth of 
the river, and the works, origin ally built of turf, 
have been suffered to go to decay. It is better it 
should be so, for it would be easy at any time to 
throw up othei*s, and all immediate expense is avoided. 
On the opposite side is the American Fort Niagara, 
which, though built of stone, does not present an 
aspect much more formidable than its British rival. 
The latter w^as garrisoned by a party of the 79th 
regiment, and I own the pleasure with which I saw, 
in this remote district, our national flag and uni- 
form, was very great. I no longer felt as a stranger 
in the land, and caught myself almost unconsciously 
doing the honours to a very pleasant party of Ame- 


ricans whom I accompanied in a ramble tlirough tlie 
ruinous entrenchments and dismantled works. 

A steam-boat starts daily from Fort George, tor 
York, the capital of Upper Canada. I certainly 
never made a trip in a more comfortable vessel. It 
was commanded by a half-pay officer of the navy, 
and in point of cleanliness and nicety of arrange- 
ment, formed a strong contrast to the larger and 
more splendid vessels of the United States. Our 
steamer started about twelve o'clock. In five hours 
we had crossed the extremity of Lake Ontario, and 
were safely landed in York. In a body of water so 
extensive, one does not see a great deal of the scenery 
on shore. I saw enough, however, to convince me 
that the shores of Ontario are flat and devoid of 

York has i'ew objects to interest a traveller. It 
stands in a level and marshy country, and contains 
about five thousand inbabitants. It was once — I 
believe twice — taken by the Americans during the 
war, and is in truth a place scarcely capable of 
defence. There is no commanding point for the 
erection of a fort or battery ; and the only one 



at present existing, could afford very inadequate 
protection in case of attack. The place, however, 
is prosperous, and the price of building ground 
struck me as very high. The Government house is 
of wood— rather a singular circumstance, since brick 
is a common building material in the town. 

There is a college at York, which seems to be con- 
ducted on judicious principles. The public build- 
ings are just what tbey ought to be, plain and sub- 
stantial. In passing through the streets, I was rather 
surprised to observe an afficlie intimating that ice 
creams were to be had within. The weather being 
hot, I entered, and found the master of the establish- 
ment to be an Italian. I never eat better ice at 


Having passed a day at York, I sailed in a very 
noble steamer, called the Great Britain, to Prescott, 
at the northern extremity of the lake. Our day's 
voyage presented nothing remarkable, but at night 
it came on to blow very hard, and our vessel, though 
one of the largest class, kept pitching very disagree- 
ably. In the morning no land was visible, the 
waves were very high, and Ontario-not unsucccss- 


fully — seemed to ape the Atlantic. Towards the 
middle of the lake the water is of a deep blue 

We stopped for an hour at Kingston, a place of 
considerable population, and certainly far better 
adapted than York to become the capital of the pro- 
vince. Its situation is so strong, as to afford com- 
plete security from a coup de main, and there is a 
fort which completely commands both town and 
harbour. In the dockyard there are two seventy- 
fours on the stocks, the building of which was 
arrested by the peace. 

During the war, Kingston, from its fine harbour, 
and other natural advantages, was a place of much 
consequence. Sacketts harbour, the rival American 
port, is altogether inferior. The manner in which 
the lake warfare was conducted, affords a fine spe- 
cimen of the folly and ignorance of a British Go- 
vernment. Frigates were sent out in frame to a 
country covered with the finest timber, and the mere 
expense of conveying these from Montreal to King- 
ston, was far greater than similar vessels could have 
been built for on the spot. The Naw Board were 



particularly careful that the armaments should not 
suffer from a deficiency of water-casks, though it 
was only necessary to drop a bucket to procure water 
of the finest quality from the lake; ai4^ to crown the 
absurdity, an apparatus for distilling sea water was 
supplied for each vessel ! 

Having passed Kingston, we were fairly in the 
St Lawrence, and the scenery became very striking. 
Towards evening we passed through that portion of 
the river called the Lake of the Thousand Isles. 
Nothing could be more beautiful, when seen in the 
light of a brilliant sunset. The islands are of ail 
sizes — some only a few yards in extent, others 
upwards of a mile. One could fancy many of them 
to be — what they are not — the retreat of innocence 
and peace. Their number has never been correctly 
ascertained, but is generally estimated to be near 
two thousand. 

The voyage terminated at a miserable village 
called Prescott, where we supped, slept, and break- 
fasted. I had been fortunate in meeting a detach- 
ment of the 71st regiment on board the Great Bri- 

VOL. II. 2 F 


tain, who were about to descend the St Lawrence 
in batteaux to Montreal. The officers obligingly in- 
vited me to join their party — an arrangement too 
agreeable to be declined. The detachment consisted 
of about fifty men and three officers, and four boats 
were provided for their accommodation. One of 
these, intended for the officers, was fitted up with 
an awning, and by a judicious arrangement of the 
cloaks and portmanteaus, the whole party were com- 
fortably provided with seats. 

About ten o'clock we started. The boatmen were 
all natives of the Lower province, and spoke English 
with difficulty. A merrier set of beings it is scarcely 
possible to imagine. The buoyancy of their spirits 
was continally finding vent in song or laughter, un- 
less when we approached a rapid, or our commander, 
tired of the incessant noise, thought proper to enjoin 

The rapids of the St Lawrence rank in the first 
order of sublimities. They are caused by a great 
contraction and sudden descent in the bed of the 
river, and are generally accompanied by nume- 
rous islands and rocks in the middle of the stream. 


The river, thus pent up and obstructed, is thrown 
into violent perturbation, and rushes onward with 
tremendous fury, roaring, dashing, and foaming in a 
manner truly formidable to weak nerves. When one 
looks at the turbulence of the waters, and the terri- 
fic eddies and whirlpools into which they are thrown 
by the conflict of opposing currents, it at first seems 
impossible that a boat can escape being dashed to 
pieces, and in truth it is only by the most skilful 
pilotage that such a consummation is avoided. The 
life or death of a party is often decided by a single 
touch of the helm, and it is occasionally necessary 
to pass even within a yard or two of a spot where keel 
never crossed without instant destruction. 

On approaching any formidable rapid, all is silent 
on board. The conductor is at the helm, and each 
of the crew at his post. All eyes are steadfastly 
fixed on the countenance of th helmsman, whose 
commands seldom require to be expressed in words. 
Every look is understood and obeyed, with the 
promptitude of men who know their peril. Accidents 
rarely occur, and in truth the danger is just immi- 
nent enough to create a pleasant degree of excitement 


in tbe voyager. He kr.ows that lie is not safe, and 
that his chances of life depend on the skill and stea- 
diness of the boatmen. The probability of safety, 
however, greatly preponderates ; and the risk »of 
being dashed to mummy on the rocks, though suffi- 
ciently strong to excite his imagination, wants power 
to perturb it. 

A few hours after leaving Prescott, we entered 
the first rapid. It is called the Long Sault, and 
extends for about nine miles. We did the whole 
distance in little more than twenty minutes, and at 
some places our motion seemed rapid as that of a 
bird. One portion of the rapid, called the Big Pitch, 
is particularly formidable. The river is there divided 
by an island into two arms of nearly equal dimen- 
sions, and the descent must be very great, for the 
stream dashes through the rocks with fearful vio- 
lence, and sends up pyramids of spray. 

The chief point of danger, however, is where tl.e 
branches, having passed the island, are again united. 
Men may talk of the charge of hostile armies, and 
no doubt a poet may spin very pretty, and even 
sublime verses out of such matter. But the charge 


of hostile torrents is altogether a more magiiiticent 
affair, and who shall describe the " dreadful revelry " 
of their conflict? At the Big Pitch, the two arms of the 
St Lawrence rush against each other with a thunder- 
ing roar, and are shivered into spray by the violence 
of the concussion. The whole surface of the river 
boils like a cauldron, and the water on either side is 
driven back from the centre to the margin in a mul- 
titude of eddies and whirlpools. It is only by slow 
degrees that the commotion ceases, and the ordinary 
aspect of the river is restored. 

In passing the scene of this alarming struggle, the 
boat for about a minute reeled and staggered very 
disagreeably, and two or three waves burst over us. 
Before we had time, however, to clear the water 
from our eyes, the Big Pitch was past, and we were 
borne forward on water comparatively smooth. 

We slept at a poor village, the name of which I 
forget. Our boatmen, who had all day been pulling 
at the oars, like true Canadians, instead of going 
to bed, got up a dance with the village girls, and 
the ball was only stopped by the re- embarkation of 
the party on the following morning. The whole crew 


were drunk, with the exception of the conductor, 
but the appearance of the first rapid sobered them in 
an instant. 

Our course now lay through Lake St Francis. 
There was not a breath of wind, and the assistance 
received from the current was very trifling. The 
lake is nearly thirty miles long, and about ten or 
twelve in breadth. At its lower extremity is the 
village of St Regis, where the boundary line of the 
United States leaving the St Lawrence, the river 
becomes exclusively Canadian. 

We breakfasted at Coteau du Lac, and shot 
tlirough another rapid with the speed of an arrow. 
In order to facilitate the communication between 
the provinces, canals have been made, by which 
these rapids may be avoided. The shores of the 
St Lawrence are chequered with patches of cultiva- 
tion, but not so much so as materially to affect the 
general character of the scenery. Among rivers of 
first-rate magnitude, I imagine the palm of beauty 
must be yielded to the St Lawrence. In its aspect 
there is no dulness, no monotony. It is continually 
changing from the rapid to the lake, from excessive 


velocity of current to still and tranquil water, on 
which, but for sail and oar, the motion of the boat 
would be imperceptible. 

Perhaps no two rivers afford a stronger contrast 
than the Mississippi and the St Lawrence. The 
scenery of the former is flat and unchanging; of 
the latter, infinitely diversified. The water of the 
Mississippi is ever dark and turbid ; the St Lawrence 
is beautifully clear. The Mississippi traverses a 
continent, and enlarges gradually from a mountain 
rivulet into a mighty river. The St Lawrence is 
an Adam at its birtlu It knows no childhood, 
and attains at once to maturity. The current of 
the Mississippi is smooth and equable; that of the 
St Lawrence rapid and impetuous. The volume of 
the Mississippi is continually influenced by the vicis- 
situdes of season ; it annually overflows its banks, 
and spreads a deluge over the surrounding region. 
The St Lawrence is the same at all seasons ; rains 
neither augment its volume, nor do droughts per- 
ceptibly diminish it. The channel of the St Law- 
rence leads through a succession of lakes. There 
are no lakes connected with the Mississippi. The 


St Lawrence, on approaching the terraination of its 
course, gradually expands into a noble bay ; and 
amid a region bounded by forest and mountain, 
mingles almost imperceptibly with the ocean. The 
Mississippi pours its flood into the Gulf of Mexico 
by a number of branches flowing through a delta 
formed by the diluvium of its own waters.* 

Nor is their efi'ect on the spectator less difl^erent. 
The one is grand and beautiful ; the other awful and 
sublime. The St Lawrence delights the imagination ; 
the Mississippi overwhelms it. 

I shall not linger on the voyage. We passed the 
Cedar rapids and the Cascades, both of which are 
considered more dangerous than the Long Sault. 
But their character is the same, and I shall spare 
the reader the trouble of perusing certain long 
descriptions which I find in my journal. Suffice 
it to say, that at nightfall our voyage terminated at 
La Chine, a village nine miles from Montreal. 

The inn was tolerable, but it must be confessed that 

* Those who wish to see this parallel followed out with greater 
minuteness, I beg to refer to Mr Stuart's Travels in the United States, 
and those of Mr Hodgson. 

LA CHINE. 345 

tlie Canadian hotels are inferior to those of the United 
States, while the charges are considerably higlier. 
There is no arrangement, no zeal to oblige, and the 
amount of civility at the disposal of a traveller is 
very limited. In the United States, an Englishman 
becomes accustomed to indifference, and has rarely 
to encounter insolence. In a country like Canada, 
subject to the British crown, he is apt to expect 
more, and the chances are that he will find less. 

On the day following, I drove to Montreal, and 
was certainly agreeably surprised by the appearance 
of the city. It stands on an island, about thirty 
miles long, and at a short distance from the moun- 
tain wjiose name it bears. The houses are entirely 
constructed of stone; and the neatness of the build- 
ings, and the general air of solidity and compactness, 
have a very pleasing effect to an eye accustomed to 
the trashy clap- board edifices of an American town. 
It is the fashion in Montreal to cover the roofs of the 
houses with tin, so that in looking down on it from the 
neighbouring heights, tlie city glitters with a mirror- 
like brightness. In the higher part of the town are 
some handsome streets, and the public buildings are 


in the best taste — plain, substantial, and without 
pretension of any sort. The suburbs are embellished 
by a number of tasteful residences, which are often 
surrounded by pleasure-grounds of considerable 
beauty. The inhabitants are hospitable; and the 
establishments of the more wealthy combine ele- 
gance with comfort. 

The population of Montreal is about 30,000. 
The great majority of the mercantile class are 
English ; but the lower orders, both in language 
and appearance, decidedly French. Their dress is 
at once primitive and peculiar. Like the Spaniards, 
they wear a sash of coloured worsted round the 
waist, a jacket, generally of blue or brown, and 
shoes fashioned after the Indian mocassin. The 
natives of the Montreal and Quebec districts fire 
distinguished by the colour of their caps. The 
former wear the bonnet bleu; the latter, the bonnet 

The prevailing religion is the Catholic ; and the 
Cathedral does honour to the taste and spirit of the 
inhabitants. It is built of a bluish limestone, and 
of a fabric so substantial, that it bids fair to outlast 


every church now extant in the United States. 
The style of architecture is Gothic ; and the only 
defects which struck me, are a bareness of ornament, 
— attributable, I imagine, to a deficiency of funds, — 
and a glare of light, which injures the effect of the 

There are several convents in Montreal, one of 
which I visited, in company with an eminent mer- 
chant of the city. The building is commodious and 
extensive, and the establishment consists of a mere 
superieure, and twenty-four nuns. Its funds, which 
are considerable, are devoted to purposes of charity ; 
and I saw a little troop of orphans, whom they sup- 
port and educate. There is likewise an hospital for 
the insane and incurable, which I declined visiting. 
I saw several of the sisters, — pale, unearthly-looking 
beings, — who, accustomed to the ministrations of the 
sickbed, flit about with noiseless steps, and speak 
in a low and subdued tone. Their garb is peculiar. 
It consists of a gown of light drab, plain muslin 
cap, black hood, a sort of tippet of white linen, and 
the usual adjuncts of rosary and crucifix. 

The interest excited by this pious and benevolent 


institution was certainly not diminished by the com- 
munications of my companion. *' It is impossible," 
he said, " that I can look on this establishment, 
without feelings of the deepest gratitude. Thirty- 
five years ago, I came to this city a penniless and 
friendless boy ; and I had not one friend or connec- 
tion in the colony from whom I might expect kind- 
ness. Shortly after my arrival, I fell sick. I could 
not work, and was utterly destitute of the means of 
subsistence. In this situation, these charitable nuns 
received me into this house, nursed me with ten- 
derness, through a long and grievous illness, and 
supplied me with the means of support, until, by my 
own labour, I was enabled to rid them of the burden. 
By God's providence, I have prospered in the world. 
I am now rich, but never do I pass the gates of this 
institution without a silent blessing on its humble 
and pious inmates." 

Lord and Lady Aylmer were in Montreal, and 
their presence rendered it at once the scene of gaiety 
and hospitality. I passed a week there, with great 
pleasure, and then embarked in one of those magni- 
ficent steamers which ply on the St Lawrence for 


Quebec. The distance between the cities is a hun- 
dred and eighty miles, which is generally accom- 
plished in about twenty hours. 

As we approached Quebec, the scenery became 
more wild and mountainous. Cultivation rarely 
extends beyond a mile or two from the river, and 
agriculture appears to be conducted by the Cana- 
dians of the Lower Province on the worst principles. 
To me, they appeared a light-hearted and amiable 
people, who brave the chances of life, with apathy 
to its sufferings, and a keen sensation of its enjoy- 
ments. No contrast in human character can be 
greater than that exhibited by the inhabitants of 
Lower Canada and the United States. The one, 
averse from all innovation, content to live as his 
fathers have done before him, sluggish, inert, and 
animated by strong local attachment to the spot 
of his nativity. The other, active and speculating, 
never satisfied with his present condition, emigra- 
ting wherever interest may direct, and influenced in 
every circumstance by the great principle of turning 
the penny. The Canadian is undoubtedly the more 

350 QUEBEC. 

interesting ; but, on the standard of utility, I fear 
Jean Baptiste must yield the pas to Jonathan. 

Quebec bears on its front the impress of nobility. 
By the most obtuse traveller, it cannot be mistaken 
for a mere commonplace and vulgar city. It towers 
with an air of pride and of menace — the menace not 
of a bully, but of an armed Paladin prepared for 
battle. No city in the world stands amid nobler 
scenery. The heights bristling with wT^rks ; the 
splendid and impregnable citadel frowning on Capo 
Diamond ; the river emerging in the distance from 
the dark pine forest, with its broad expanse covered 
with shipping ; the Isle of Orleans reposing in tran- 
quil beauty amid its waters ; and the colossal ranges 
of mountains which close the prospect ; — constitute 
an assemblage of splendid features, which may be 
equalled, but can scarcely be surpassed. 

Till I landed from the steam-boat, Quebec was to 
me a mere abstraction, which it pleased my imagi- 
nation to invest with attributes of grandeur. But 
the first aspect of the lower town contributed to 
dissipate the charm. It extends over a narrow ledge 

at the foot of the precipice. The streets are dirty 



and narrow — the trottoirs so much so, that two 
people can scarcely pass without jostling. It is in 
this quarter that merchants most do congregate ; and 
here are the exchange, the custom-house, the banks, 
and all the filth and circumstance of inglorious 

The pomp of war is displayed in a loftier region, 
which is approached by a very steep street leading 
upward through a natural cleft in the brow of the 
mountain. In the higher town are the court and the 
camp, the Castle of St Louis on its lofty pedestal of 
rock, with a formidable array of towering ramparts 
for their defence. In this quarter no sign of traffic 
is discernible, and the sound of military music, the 
number of soldiers in the streets, the sentinels in their 
solitary walk along the ramparts, and the vociferous 
revelry of young and idle officers, strike with plea- 
sing novelty on the senses of a traveller from the 
United States. 

The fortnight I passed at Quebec is associated 
with pleasant memories. By the officers of the 32d 
regiment I was admitted an honorary member of 
their mess ; and I request these gentlemen to accept 


my thanks for the many agreeable hours spent in 
their society. I enjoyed the pleasure, too, of en- 
countering an old military friend, with whom I had 
long served in the same corps. More recently, we 
had travelled together on the continent of Europe, 
and now, by one of those unanticipated chances 
which occasionally brighten life, we were again 
thrown together, with what feelings it is unneces- 
sary to describe 

At Montreal, Lord Aylmer had obligingly fur- 
nished me with a letter of introduction to Colonel 
Cockburn, the commandant of artillery; and the 
advantages I derived from it were very great. Colo- 
nel Cockburn is an accomplished artist, with a deli- 
cate perception, and fine feeling of the beauties of 
nature; and it was under his guidance, and gene- 
rally in his company, that I visited the surrounding 

My first excursion was to the falls of Montmorenci, 
about eight miles from the city. On emerging from 
the city gate, we crossed the St Charles, and then 
pursued our course through a pleasant and well-cul- 
tivated country, interspersed with villages. It was 



a holyday of some sort, and the inhabitants were all 
abroad clad in their best, and gay as the more fortu- 
nate inhabitants of less wintry regions. The heights 
of Montmorenci are interesting as having been the 
scene of Wolfe's first attack on Montcalm. It was 
unsuccessful. The French occupied an entrenched 
position on the summit, from which it was found 
impossible to dislodge them. About six hundred of 
Wolfe's army fell in the attempt. 

The falls are very fine, but have unfortunately 
been disfigured by the erection of a mill on the very 
summit of the precipice ; but the view from a plat- 
form adjoining this building is magnificent. The 
entire height of the fall is two hundred and forty 
feet, and though the body of water is — in summer, at 
least — of no great magnitude, it thunders down the 
steep with astonishing majesty, and makes glorious 
turmoil in a huge basin surrounded on three sides b}' 
precipitous cliff's. About a mile above is a geological 
curiosity called " the natural steps," which appear 
, to have been worn in the rock by the attrition of 
the stream. These are so regular as to make it 

VOL. II. 2 G 


difficult to believe that art has had no share in their 

Close to the city are the Plains of Abraham. 
Traces of field works are yet visible, and an oval 
block of granite marks the spot on which Wolfe 
expired. x\bout a mile higher is Wolfe's Cove, 
where he landed during the night, and the fearful 
cliff up which he led his follow^ers to victory. A 
redoubt on the summit was carried by escalade, and 
by daydawn the army was formed in order of battle 
on the heights. Montcalm instantly quitted his 
entrenchments at Beaufort to meet him. By ten 
o'clock the armies were engaged, and in two hours 
the power of France on the American continent was 

Wolfe died young, and his name bears something 
of a melancholy charm to the ear of every English- 
man. Yet there appear no grounds for attributing 
to him the qualities of a great general. His first 
attempt was a failure, and the second was successful 
only from the blunder of his opponent. In accept- 
ing battle, Montcalm gave up all his advantages- 
Had he retired into the city, Quebec never could 


have been taken. Winter was rapidly approaching, 
(the battle took place on the 12th of September,) 
and siege was impossible. 

A monument has been erected to the memory of 
these brave men It is an obelisk copied from some 
of those in Rome, and bears two Latin inscriptions, 
which to ninety- nine out of every hundred who look 
on it are unintelligible. There is nonsense and 
pedantry in this. The inscriptions should have been 
in French and English. 

The citadel has been strengthened and rebuilt at 
an enormous expense. It perfectly commands both 
the city and the river, and is so strong, that in all 
human probability it will ever remain a virgin fort- 
ress. At all events, those who have skill, courage, 
and energy to wrest it from the grasp of British 
soldiers, will deserve to keep it. Assuredly their 
national annals will record no more brilliant achieve- 

The chateau of St Louis is now converted into the 
residence of the Governor. It stands on the verge 
of a precipitous rock, down which it seems in danger 
of tumbling. In point of architecture it has nothing 


to boast. There is a total want of massiveiiess and 

The other public buildings are principally religious. 
The convents, which are numerous, I did not visit. 
The cathedral is a massive stone edifice, without 
ornament of any sort. The walls in the interior 
display a good many pictures, which I had not 
patience to examine. The grand altar is as magni- 
ficent as waxen virgins and gilt angels can make it. 
New York and the Canadas are the chosen regions 
of waterfalls. Their opulence in this noble feature 
is unrivalled. I had already seen many, but there 
were still many to be seen. I confess my appetite 
for cataracts had become rather squeamish, yet I 
walked nine miles under a burning sun to see that 
of the Chaudiere. It is still embosomed in the forest, 
whose echoes for many thousand years it has awa- 
kened. The wild commotion of the river contrasts 
finely with the deathlike quietude of all other objects. 
It was June, yet there were no birds pouring melody 
through these dismal woodlands. How different are 
the Canadian forests from the woods of Old Eng- 


land ! Living nature was silent ; inanimate spoke 
only in that voice 

" wliicli seemed to him 

Who dwelt ia Patmos, for his Saviour's sake, 
The crowd of many waters." 

The Chaudiere is about the size of the Tweed. 
The perpendicular height of the fall is upwards of 
a hundred feet. The finest view is from a ledge 
of rock projecting into the river about fifty yards 
below. The water in the basin, or, as it is called, 
the Pot, boils as water never did in pot before. It 
then dashes down a succession of rapids, and con- 
tinues to fume, and toss, and tumble, until finally 
swallowed up by the St Lawrence. The sight is fine 
and impressive. No traveller should leave Quebec 
without visiting the Chaudiere. 

The village of Loretto is a melancholy sight. It 
contains the last and only remains of the once power- 
ful tribe of Huron Indians. Brandy and gunpowder 
have done their work, and about two hundred of this 
once noble people are all that survive. They have 
adopted the religion, and speak the language, of the 
Canadians. There is a church in the village, and 
a priest who mingles with his flock, and is beloved 


by them. Christianity is the only benefit for which 
the red man is indebted to the white. The latter 
cheats, robs, corrupts, and ruins him in this world, 
and then makes a merit of saving him in the next. 
The benefit is pure, but these poor Indians may 
reasonably distrust the gift, when there is blood on 
the hand by which it is bestowed. 

The legislative bodies were not sitting, and I know 
nothing of Canadian politics. There is a Mr Papi- 
neau, however, who plays with great spirit the part 
of a colonial O'Connell, The field is not large, but 
he makes the most of it, and enjoys the dignity of 
beiug a thorn in the side of each successive governor. 
Mr Papineau and his party are continually grum- 
bling at being subject to British dominion ; but what 
would they have ? They pay no taxes. John Bull 
spends his money pretty freely among them, as they 
may see by the works on Cape Diamond, and the 
Rideau Canal. The latter must be of immediate 
and great benefit to both provinces; but had the 
Canadians been left to their own resources, it could 
never have existed. What would they have ? The 
Lower Province, at least, will not join the United 


States ; and it is too poor, and too helpless, to set up 
for itself. Withdraw British capital from the colony, 
and what would remain ? Rags, poverty, and empty 

With regard to the Upper Province, the time is 
fast approaching when it will join the United States. 
Every thing tends towards this consummation. The 
canals which connect the vast chain of lakes witli 
the Ohia and the- Hudson, must accelerate its advent. 
The Canadian farmer already has easier access to 
the markets of New York and New Orleans than he 
has to that of Quebec. The mass of the people are 
republicans in politics, and anarchists in morals. 
Let them go. The loss to England will be trifling. 
The eagle does not droop his wing for the loss of a 

It is well, however, that British statesmen should 
steadily contemplate this event, and direct their 
policy accordingly. Let them not hope to conciliate 
this people by concession. *' The mighty stream of 
tendency " cannot be arrested in its progress. But 
it will become a matter of grave consideration 
whether a province eo circumstanced should be 


enriched by any further expenditure of British 
revenue — whether England is still to lavish millions 
in building fortresses and constructing canals — and 
whether it be not, on the whole, more consonant to 
political wisdom, to leave the improvement of* this 
vast region to individual enterprise, and the results 
of an unshackled industry. 

The Canadians may rely on it, that whenever a 
considerable majority of the people become hostile 
to the continuance of British connexion, they will 
find little difficulty in achieving their independence. 
England could hold them in subjection by the bayo- 
net ; but she will not use it. She will bid them 
farewell ; give them her blessing, and leave them to 
follow their own course. Whether they will be 
happier or more prosperous, is a question which an- 
other century must probably determine. 

When Lower Canada first came into the posses- 
sion of Great Britain, the latter committed a great 
error in not insisting that her language should be 
adopted in all public instruments. The consequence 
is, that eighty years have passed, and the people are 
still French. The tie of community of literature 


does not exist, and the only channel by which moral 
influence can be asserted or maintained has been 
wantonly closed. The people read — when they read 
any thing — French books ; French authorities are 
quoted in the law courts ; the French language is 
spoken in the streets ; French habits, French feel- 
ings, French prejudices, abound everywhere. The 
lapse of three generations has witnessed no advance- 
ment, moral or intellectual, in the Canadians of the 
Lower Province. They are now precisely what they 
were at the period of the conquest. 

Another decided blunder was the separation of 
Canada into two provinces. This has prevented any 
general amalgamation of the population. One pro- 
vince is decidedly French ; the other no less exclu- 
sively English, or American. The latter enjoys a 
milder climate, and more fertile soil, and increases 
in wealth and population far more rapidly than its 
rival. It is to the Upper Province that the whole 
tide of emigration is directed. It is with the pro- 
duce of the Upper Province that the ships navigating 
the St Lawrence are freighted ; Lower Canada ex- 
ports little but lumber. 

VOL. II. 2 H 


The French Canadians, therefore, oppose every im- 
provement by which the rival province may be bene- 
fited, and, with such feelings, collision on a thou- 
sand points is unavoidable. Internal improvement 
is impeded, for there could be no agreement as to 
the proportion of contribution to be furnished by each 
province. The breach instead of healing, is annually 
widened, and Upper Canada is thrown into an inter- 
course with the United States, the result of which I 
have already ventured to predict. 

The government of Canada may in one sense be 
called a bed of roses, for it is full of thorns. Every 
governor must find it so. He has to deal with men 
of mean minds and selfish passions ; to maintain the 
necessary privileges of the Crown ; to prevent the 
rational freedom of a limited monarchy from dege- 
nerating into the unbridled license of democracy. 
He is beset by clamour, and assailed by faction, and 
must either become the leader of one party, or offend 
both. His difficulties and embarrassments increase. 
He appeals for support to his government, and re- 
ceives a letter of thanks and his recall. 

Such has been the story of many governors of 
these troublesome provinces, and will probably bo 


that of many more. But if any man be calculated 
to conciliate all the passions and prejudices of the 
Canadians, it is Lord Aylmer. His amiable charac- 
ter, his kind yet dignified manners, his practical 
good sense, his experience of business, and extensive 
knowledge of the world, can scarcely fail to exert a 
salutary influence in soothing the asperities of party, 
and exposing the motives of turbulence, by depriving 
it of excuse. At the period of my visit to Canada, 
I rejoice to say it was so. In every society, I heard 
the new governor spoken of with respect, and even the 
*' sweet voices" of the populace were in his favour. 
The travels of the Schoolmaster have not yet led 
him to these wintry regions. Few of the lower order of 
Canadians can read, and the education even of the 
more wealthy is very defective. The ladies resem- 
ble those of the United States, and are subject to the 
same prematurity of decay. But they are pleasing 
and amiable, though given to commit sad slaughter 
among sensitive and romantic subalterns. The older 
stagers are generally charm-proof, and the marriage 
pf a major is an event as remarkable in the colony 
as the appearance of a comet 




I LEFT Quebec with regret, for it was necessary 
to bid farewell to an agreeable circle, and an old 
friend. The voyage to Montreal presented nothing 
remarkable, and, after passing a few days in that 
city, I prepared to return to the United States. 

After crossing the St Lawrence to Longueuil, 
it was discovered that a portmanteau had been left 
at Montreal. My servant accordingly returned in 
the steam-boat, while I was forced to wait several 
hours for his reappearance in a very miserable 
tavern. After all, this compulsory arrangement 
was not unfortunate. The heat was intense, and 
travelling, if not impossible, would bave been very 


disagreeable. In order to pass the time, 1 bathed in 
the river, read all the old newspapers the house could 
afford, and, finally— discovering that the luxury of 
sofas was unknown at Longueuil— went to bed. 

Why this dirty and paltry village should be more 
tormented by flies than other places, I know not. 
Every room in the tavern absolutely swarmed with 
them. Myriads of these detestable insects, duly 
officered by blue-bottles, kept hovering around, and 
perched in whole battalions at every favourable op- 
portunity on the face and hands of the victim. Under 
these circumstances, a siesta was impossible, and, on 
descending to dinner, I could at first discern nothing 
but four dishes of flies. The sight was not calculated 
to increase appetite, and during the meal a woman 
with a large fan was obliged to defend the table from 
their approach. It was not till evening that my 
servant returned with the portmanteau, and having 
procured a carriage, I lost not a moment in escaping 
from a village which appeared to suff'er under a 
plague, unparalleled since the days of Pharaoh. 

The road to Chambly was execrable, and the jour- 
ney both tedious and disagreeable. I passed the 


night there, and on the following morning proceed- 
ed to St John's. The road follows the course of the 
Sorell, which at St John's is somewhat more than a 
mile in hreadth. A steam-boat, fortunately, was 
about to sail for Whitehall, at the southern extre- 
mity of Lake Champlain, and in ten minutes I was 
on board. From St John's, the river gradually 
widens, till it reaches Isle Aux Noix, a post of some 
strength, which is occupied by a British garrison. 
Here the traveller bids farewell to Canada, and enters 
the territory of the United States. 

Lake Champlain is a beautiful sheet of water, 
about 140 miles long, with a mean breadth of about 
five or six. The surrounding country is undulating, 
and in most places yet unredeemed from a state of 
nature. It was the theatre of many interesting 
events in the early history of the colonies. Traces 
of the forts at Ticonderago and Crown Point are 
still visible. 

We passed Plattsburg, the scene of the unfortu- 
nate naval action in 1814. I was then serving in 
the colonies, and had a good deal of correspondence 
with Commodore Sir James Yeo, relative to the 



charges he afterwards exhibited against Sir George 
Prevost.* The historian who would illustrate by 
facts the almost incredible amount of folly, igno- 
rance, and imbecility, by which the arms of England 
may be tarnished, and her resources wasted with 
impunity, should bestow a careful examination on 
the details of the Plattsburg expedition. He will 
then precisely understand how war can be turned 
into child's play, and its operations regulated, as in 
the royal game of Goose, by the twirl of a teetotum. 
On the following morning I quitted the steam- 


* When the order for retreat was given, Sir Manly Power, wlio 
manded a brigade, rode up to Sir George Prevost, and thus addressed 
him :-« What is it I hear. Sir George? Can it be possible that you 
have issued an order to retreat before this miserable body of undisciplined 
militia? With one battalion I pledge myself to drive them from the fort 
in ten minutes. For God's sake, spare the army this disgrace. For your 
own sake-for the sake of us all-I implore you not to tarnish the ho- 
nour of the British arms, by persisting in this order." Sir George simply 
answered, " I have issued the order, and expect it to be obeyed." 

In addition, it is only necessary to add, that the fort was of mud, that 
its garrison was only 3000 militia, while the retreating army consisted 
of 10,000 of the finest troops In the world. To heighten the disgrace, 
there was considerable sacrifice of stores and ammunition ! It is deeply to 
be lamented, that the death of Sir George Prevost, shortly after his re- 
call, prevented the investigation of his conduct before a court-mart.aL 


boat, and, procuring a cart for the conveyance of my 
goods and chattels, walked across the mountains to 
Lake George. The scenery of this lake is celebra- 
ted, and though I visited it with high expectations, 
they were not disappointed. Lake George is thirty- 
six miles long, but rarely more than five broad. In 
form, it resembles Windermere, but its features are 
bolder and more decided. The country, in general, 
is yet unreclaimed, and the sides of the mountains 
are clothed with wood to the summit. Embosomed 
in the lake are many beautiful islands, only one of 
which appeared to be inhabited. Here and there 
the shore was diversified by cultivation, and occa- 
sionally, near some quiet and retired haven, stood a 
log cottage, with which the fancy delighted to con- 
nect a thousand pleasing associations. 

The steam-boat which conveyed us through this 
beautiful region was somewhat old and rickety, 
and her progress slow. For the first time in my life 
I considered this an advantage. It was pleasant to 
linger in such a scene, to resign the spirit to its tran- 
quil influence, to people the memory with fresh 


images of beauty, and at leisure to behold those 
objects on which the eye was destined to gaze but 

The voyage terminated at Caldwell, a small vil- 
lage at the southern extremity of the lake. The inn 
was comfortable, and in the evening, having nothing 
better to do, I took a ramble in the neighbourhood. 
About half a mile distant are the remains of a Britisli 
fort, called Fort William Henry. It was erected in 
1755, by Sir William Johnson, and attacked in the 
same year by a French force under Baron Dieskau. 
The assailants were repulsed with great slaughter, 
and the loss of their general. In the following year, 
however, it was invested by Montcalm, at the head 
of 10,000 men. Colonel Munro, the governor, made 
a gallant defence, but was at length forced to capi- 
tulate. The whole garrison were afterwards treach- 
erously attacked and massacred by the Indians attach- 
ed to Montcalm's army. The fort was destroyed, 
and has never since been rebuilt. 

On the following morning, I left Caldwell in the 
stage for Saratoga Springs, the Cheltenham of the 
United States. The road lay through a country of 


diversified features, and m a state of tolerable culti- 
vation. It was only the end of June, yet the corn 
was yellow in the ear, and in many places the har- 
vest had already commenced. The crops were luxu- 
riant, and the wheat ears struck me as larger than 
any I had ever seen in England. 

The Falls of the Hudson, which I stopped to ex- 
amine, had not much to excite the admiration of a 
traveller fresh from Niagara and Lower Canada, yet 
they are fine in themselves ; and if the imagination 
could abstract them from the numerous saw and corn 
mills they are employed to set in motion, and re- 
present them as they were in the days when the 
bear and panther lorded it in the surrounding forest, 
and the wild-deer came to slake his thirst in their 
basin, doubtless the impression would be very stri- 
king. A fine waterfall is confessedly a noble feature 
in a landscape ; but when the surrounding objects 
are found to be utterly inconsistent with grandeur 
and harmony of effect, the eye turns from the scene 
with disappointment, and a sentiment even allied to 
disgust. We feel that nature has been defaced, and 
that utility has been obtained at the expense of a 


thousand picturesque beauties and romantic associa- 

There are people, no doubt, who are quite satisfied 
with seeing a certain mass of water precipitated from 
a given height, no matter by what process or in what 
situation. The cataract makes a grand splash, and 
they are satisfied. Their eye is offended by no in- 
consistencies, their ear by no discords. For them, 
there are no sublimities in nature, nor vulgarities in 
art. For minute and delicate beauty they have no 
eye, and estimate rock or mountain as they measure 
broadcloth, by the yard. 

A blessing be on all such. They are honest men, 
no doubt, and useful. Their taste in dry goods may 
be unexceptionable, and they probably feel the whole 
beauty of a landscape — on a China basin. They will 
travel far to see a waterfall, or a lion, and if the for- 
mer be made to turn a mill, or the latter a spit, their 
enjoyment will sustain prodigious augmentation. 

Saratoga has all the appearance of a watering- 
place. There is a certain smartness about it ; an 
air of pretension, like that assumed by a beau, who 
devours his shilling's worth of boiled beef, in the 


Coal- Hole, or the Cheshire-Cheese. It may be called 
a village of hotels, for they abound in every street, 
and give a character to the place. These establish- 
ments are on a large scale ; and that in which I 
took up my abode can accommodate two hundred 

To this village, company flock in summer from all 
parts of the Union ; and the Congress, annually as- 
sembled there, affords a fair representation of all 
the beauty and fashion of the Union. The truth is, 
that such is the unhealthiness of the climate in all 
the Atlantic cities, from New York to New Orleans, 
that their inhabitants are forced to migrate for 
several months, in order to lay in a stock of health 
for the consumption of spring and winter. All di- 
rect their course northward. Some visit the sea; 
others make a trip to Niagara, and Canada ; but by 
far the greater number are to be found congregated 
at Saratoga. 

When on the subject of climate, I may just men- 
tion, that there is no topic on which Americans are 
more jealously sensitive. It delights them to be- 
lieve that theirs is in all respects a favoured land ; 


that between the St Lawrence and Mississippi the 
sky is brighter, the breezes more salubrious, and 
the soil more fertile, than in any other region of the 
earth. There is no harm in all this ; nay, it is lau- 
dable, if they would only not insist that all strangers 
should view the matter in the same light, and ex- 
press admiration as rapturous as their own. 

Judging from my own experience, I should cer- 
tainly pronounce the climate of the northern and 
central States to be only one degree better than that 
of Nova Scotia, which struck me — when there in 
1814 — as being the very worst in the world. On 
making the American coast, we had four days of 
denser fog than I ever saw in London. After my 
arrival at New York, in November, the weather for 
about a week was very fine. It then became cloudy 
and tempestuous, and during the whole period of 
my residence at Boston, I scarcely saw the sun. At 
Philadelphia, there came on a deluge of snow, by 
which the ground was covered from January till 
March. At Baltimore, there was no improvement. 
Snow lay deep on the ground during the whole 
period of my residence at Washington, and the roads 


were only passable with difficulty. On crossing 
the Alleghany Mountains, however, the weather 
became delightful, and continued so during the 
voyage to New Orleans. While I remained in that 
city, three days out of every four were oppressively 
close and sultry, and the atmosphere was damp and 
unpleasant to breathe. During my journey from 
Mobile to Charleston, though generally hotter than 
desirable, the weather was in the main bright and 
beautiful; but the very day of my arrival at the 
latter place, the thermometer fell twenty degrees; 
and in the 33d degree of latitude, in the month of 
May, the inmates of the hotel were crowding round 
a blazing fire. On my return to New York, I found 
the population still muffled in cloaks and greatcoats, 
and the weather bitterly cold. Not a vestige of 
spring was discernible, at a season when, in Eng- 
land, the whole country is covered with verdure. 
During the last week of May, however, the heat 
became very great. At Quebec, it was almost in- 
tolerable, the thermometer ranging daily between 
84 and 92°. At New York, in July, the weather 
was all a salamander could desire ; and I embarked 


for England, under a sun more burning than it is at 
all probable I shall ever suffer from again. 

In the Northern and central States_for of the 
climate of the Southern States it is unnecessary to 
speak-the annual range of the thermometer exceeds 
a hundred degrees. The heat in summer is that of 
Jamaica ; the cold in winter that of Russia. Such 
enormous vicissitudes must necessarily impair the 
vigour of the human frame; and when we take 
into calculation the vast portion of the United 
States in which the atmosphere is contaminated by 
n^arsh exhalations, it will not be difficult, with the 
auxiliary influences of dram-drinking and tobacco- 
chewing, to account for the squalid and sickly aspect 
of the population. Among the peasantry, I never 
saw one florid and robust man, nor any one distin- 
guished by that fulness and rotundity of muscle, 
which everywhere meets the eye in England. 

In many parts of the State of New York, the 
appearance of the inhabitants was such as to exc.te 
compassion. In the Maremma of Tuscany, and the 
Campagna of Rome, I had seen beings similar, but 
scarcely more wretched. In the " fall," as they call 


it, intermittent fevers come as regularly as the fruit 
season. During ray journey, I made enquiries at 
many cottages, and found none of them had escaped 
the scourge. But enquiries were useless. The an- 
swer was generally too legible in the countenance of 
the withered mother, and in those of her emaciated 

It seems ridiculous to compare such a climate 
with that of England, and yet there is nothing to 
which Americans are more addicted. It is a subject 
regularly tabled in every society. " How delight- 
ful our climate must appear to you," observed a 
lady, " after the rain and fogs of your own coun- 
try ! " — " Whether, on the whole, do you prefer 
our climate or that of Italy ?" enquired a gentleman 
of New York, in a tone of the most profound gravity. 
My answer, I fear, gave offence, for it became the 
signal for a general meteorological attack. " I was 
three months in England," observed one, " and it 
rained every hour of the time." 

Though attached to the soil of my country, I had 
really no inclination to vindicate its atmosphere. I 
therefore simply replied, that the gentleman had 



been unfortunate in the period of his visit. But I 
was not suffered to escape thus. Another tra- 
veller declared he had been nine months there, 
without better luck; and as the nine months, added 
to the three, precisely made up the whole year, of 
course I had nothing farther to say. 

But this tone of triumph is not always tenable. 
During the days, weeks, and months when the 
weather is manifestly indefensible, the lo Poeans 
give place to apologies. A traveller is entreated, 
nay, sometimes even implored, not to judge of the 
climate by the specimen he has seen of it. Before 
his arrival, the sky was cloudless, and the atmo- 
sphere serene. He has just come in the nick of 
bad weather. Never, in the memory of the oldest 
inhabitant, was the snow so deep or so permanent. 
Never was spring so tardy in its approach, and 
never were vicissitudes of temperature so sudden and 
frequent. In short, he is desired to believe that 
the ordinary course of nature is suspended on his 
approach ; that his presence in an American city 
<]eranges the whole action of the elements. 

VOL. II. 2 I 


All this is simply a bore, and the annoyance 
merits record, only because it contributes to illus- 
trate the American character, in one of its most 
remarkable features — a restless and insatiable appe- 
tite for praise, which defies all restraint of reason 
or common sense. It is far from enough that a 
traveller should express himself delighted with the 
country and its inhabitants — that he should laud 
the beauty and fertility of the former, and all that 
is wise, dignified and amiable in the latter : he is 
expected to extend his admiration even into the 
upper air; to feel hurricanes, and speak of zephyrs, 
to gaze on clouds, and behold the pure azure, and, 
while parching under the influence of a burning 
sun, to lower the thermometer of his words, and 
dilate on the genial and delightful warmth of the 
American summer ! 

At Saratoga, the whole company, as usual, dine 
in an enormous saloon, after which the gentlemen 
lounge about the balconies, smoking cigars, while 
the ladies within read, net purses, or endeavour to 
extract music from a jingling piano. At one or 
other of the hotels there is generally a ball, and 


gentlemen, who seem to have studied dancing at 
some Shaker seminary, caper gallantly through the 
mazes of the waltz or the quadrille. 

In the morning, all are abroad to drink the waters. 
The springs are numerous, and vary both in the effi- 
cacy and nature of their effects. I made the tour of 
the most celebrated, and drank a tumbler of each. 
None of them are disagreeable to the taste, and all 
are slightly effervescent. The Congress spring is 
most in repute, and is supplied from a very neat 
fountain by boys, who dip the drinking-glasses into 
the well. This water is bottled, and sold all over the 
Union. Both in taste and appearance it resembles 

Among invalids, the prevailing complaint was 
evidently dyspepsia, of which one hears a great deal 
more than is quite agreeable in the United States. 
Even ladies inflict their sufferings without compunc- 
tion on the auditor. One — I confess she was mar- 
ried, and not young — assured me she had derived 
great benefit from employing an apothecary to mani- 
pulate her stomach every morning ! At the end of a 
fortnight she was quite cured ; and the practice of 


the apothecary became so extensive, that lie was 
obliged to employ assistant manipulators. 

After breakfast, the favourite place of resort was 
a lake about three miles distant, where the company 
drove in carriages to fish. There was a platform 
erected for the accommodation of the fishers, from 
which about fifty rods were simultaneously protruded. 
The scene was ludicrous enough. The rapture of a 
young lady or an elderly gentleman on securing a 
fish, apparently of the minnow species, would have 
made admirable matter for Matthews. There were 
two or three men whose sole occupation it was to 
bait hooks. During my stay none of the party had 
occasion for a landing net. 

A few days of Saratoga were agreeable enough, 
but the scene was too monotonous to maintain its 
attraction long. I became tired of it, and moved on 
to Ballston Spa, about seven miles distant. The 
hotel at Ballston is excellent, but the waters are 
considered inferior to those of Saratoga, and the 
place has been of late years comparatively deserted. 
Near the hotel is the house inhabited by Moreau 
during his residence in the United States. He 


quitted it to join the allied army, and his fate is 
matter of history. With every allowance for his 
situation, one cannpt but feel that his fame would 
have rested on a firmer foundation, had he declined 
to bear arms against his country. 

If Saratoga was dull, Ballston was stupid. There 
was nothing to be seen, and nothing to be done, 
except loitering in the neighbouring woods, which, 
being intersected by a river called the Kayaderoseras, 
presented some pretty scenery. The party in the 
hotel was not numerous, and two days of Ballston 
were enough. On the third morning I departed for 

Albany presents, I believe, the only instance of 
feudal tenure in the United States. At the first 
settlement of New York by the Dutch, a gentleman, 
named Von Ransellaer, received from the High and 
Mighty Lords a grant of the land on which Albany 
now stands, with the adjacent territory to the dis- 
tance of twelve Dutch miles on every side. By far 
the greater portion of this princely domain has been 
disposed of on perpetual leases, with due reservation 
of all manorial privileges of tolls, quitrents, right of 

382 ALBANY. 

minerals, proprietorsliip of mills, &c. &c. The pre- 
sent possessor still retains the title of Patroon, and is 
one of the richest citizens of the Union. His family 
are treated with a sort of prescriptive respect, which 
it will probably require another half century to 
eradicate. They are likewise the objects of some 
jealousy. From every civic office in Albany they 
are rigidly excluded. 

For the last time, I embarked on the beautiful 
Hudson. I had many friends in New York, and 
my pleasure in returning to it was tinged with 
melancholy at the thought that I was so soon to part 
with them for ever. During my absence a change 
had come over the appearance of the city. I now 
saw it under the influence of a burning sun. The 
gay and the wealthy had deserted it ; the busy only 
remained. By day the temperature was oppressive, 
and there was no moving out before evening. The 
theatres were open, but who could enter them 
with the thermometer at ninety ? There was a 
mimic Vauxhall, in the cool recesses of which one 
might eat ice in comfort, and an excellent French 
Cafe, which afforded all manner of refreshment to 

NEW YORK. 383 

an overlieated pedestrian. In spite of the season, 
many of my friends were in town, or at their 
villas in the neighbourhood. Hospitable doors were 
still open, as I had always found them. There was 
little gaiety, but abundance of society. The former 
I did not want, the latter I enjoyed. 

It was at this period that I became acquainted 
with a young artist, v/ho promises to occupy a high 
rank in his profession. His name is Weir. Like 
Harding, he is full of talent and enthusiasm, and if 
I do not mistake, his name is yet destined to become 
familiar to English ears. Mr Weir has enjoyed the 
advantage of passing several years in Italy, and has 
returned to his native city with a taste formed on 
the great masterpieces of ancient art, and a power of 
execution unusual in any country, to claim that 
patronage which genius too often demands in vain. 

I was much gratified by many of his pictures. He 
displays a fine sense of beauty in them all ; but I 
was particularly struck with one which represents a 
dying Greek. He has been wounded in the battle, 
and his limbs have with difficulty borne him to the 
presence of his mistress. His life-blood is fast 

384 MR weir's pictures. 

ebbing, and his face is deadly pale. His head 
reclines on her arm, but the approach of death is 
indicated in the general relaxation of muscle, and we 
know not whether he be yet conscious of its pres- 
sure. The countenance which gazes downward 
with irrepressible agony on his, is animated by no 
gleam of hope. There is no convulsion of the fea- 
tures, because intense grief is uniformly calm. It 
is minor emotion alone which finds relief in tears. 

The composition is harmonious. A tower sur- 
mounted by a flag, a few palm-trees, the battlements 
of a city in the second distance, and the setting sun, 
which sheds a melancholy radiance on the scene, 
complete this simple but impressive picture. The 
sketches of Mr Weir are perhaps even finer than 
the more elaborate productions of his pencil, — a cir- 
cumstance which I am apt to consider as a test of 
power. I have the good fortune to possess one 
which I value very highly, and which has been 
admired by many first-rate judges of art. 

Of the public press I have not yet spoken, and I 
have something to say on it, though not a great deal. 
Every Englishman must be struck with the great 


inferiority of American newspapers to those of his 
own country. In order to form a fair estimate of 
their merit, I read newspapers from all parts of the 
Union, and found them utterly contemptible in point 
of talent, and dealing in abuse so virulent, as to 
excite a feeling of disgust not only with the writers, 
but with the public which afforded them support. 
Tried by this standard — and I know not how it can 
be objected to — the moral feeling of this people must 
be estimated lower than in any deductions from 
other circumstances I have ventured to rate it. 
Public men would appear to be proof against all 
charges which are not naturally connected with the 
penitentiary or the gibbet. The war of politics seems 
not the contest of opinion supported by appeal to 
enlightened argument, and acknowledged principles, 
but the squabble of greedy and abusive partisans, 
appealing to the vilest passions of the populace, and 
utterly unscrupulous as to their instruments of 

I assert this deliberately, and with a full recollec- 
tion of the unwarrantable lengths to which political 

VOL. II. 2 K 


hostility in England is too often carried. Our news- 
paper and periodical press is bad enough. Its sins 
against propriety cannot be justified^ and ought not 
to be deTended. But its violence is meekness, its 
liberty restraint, and even its atrocities are virtues, 
when compared with that system of brutal and fero- 
cious outrage which distinguishes the press in Ame- 
rica. In England, even an insinuation against per- 
sonal honour is intolerable. A hint — a breath — the 
contemplation even of a possibility of tarnish — such 
things are sufficient to poison the tranquillity, and, 
unless met by prompt vindication, to ruin the cha- 
racter of a public man : but in America, it is thought 
necessary to have recourse to other w^eapons. The 
strongest epithets of a ruffian vocabulary are put 
in requisition. No villainy is too gross or impro- 
bable to be attributed to a statesman in this intel- 
ligent community. An editor knows the swallow of 
his readers, and of course deals out nothing which 
he considers likely to stick in their gullet. He knows 
the fineness of their moral feelings, and his own 
interest leads him to keep within the limits of demo- 
cratic propriety. 


The opponents of a candidate for office are gene- 
rally not content with denouncing his principles, or 
deducing from the tenor of liis political life, grounds 
for questioning the purity of his motives. They 
accuse him holdly of burglary or arson, or, at the 
very least, of petty larceny. Time, place, and cir- 
cumstance, are all stated. The candidate for Con- 
gress or the Presidency is broadly asserted to have 
picked pockets or pocketed silver spoons, or to have 
been guilty of something equally mean and contemp- 
tible. Two instances of this occur at this moment to 
my memory. In one newspaper, a member of Con- 
gress w^as denounced as having feloniously broken 
open a scrutoire, and having thence stolen certain 
bills and bank-notes; another w^as charged with 
selling franks at twopence apiece, and thus copper- 
ing his pocket at the expense of the public. 

It may be that such charges obtain little credit 
with the majority of the people, and I am w illing to 
believe that in ninety- nine cases out of a hundred they 
are exaggerated, or even absolutely false: yet they 
evidently obtain credit somewhere, or they would not 
be made. However unfounded, the paper loses no 


support from having advanced them ; and where so 
much mud is thrown, the chances are, that some 
portion of it will stick. At all events, the tarnish 
left by the filthy and offensive missile cannot be 
obliterated. In such a case, innocence is no protec- 
tion. The object of calumny feels in his inmost 
soul that he has suffered degradation. He cannot 
cherish the delusion that the purity of his character 
has placed him above suspicion ; and those who have 
studied human nature most deeply, are aware how 
often " things outward do draw the inward quality 
after them," and the opinion of the world works its 
own accomplishment. In general, suspected integ- 
rity rests on a frail foundation. Public confidence 
is the corner-stone of public honour ; and the man 
who is compelled to brave suspicion, is already half 
prepared to encounter disgrace. 

The circumstances to which I have alluded admit 
of easy explanation. Newspapers are so cheap in 
the United States, that the generality even of the 
lowest order can afford to purchase them. They 
therefore depend for support on the most ignorant 
class of the people. Every thing thev contain must 


be accommodated to the taste and apprehension of 
men who labour daily for their bread, and are of 
course indifferent to refinement either of language or 
reasoning. With such readers, whoever " peppers 
the highest is surest to please." Strong words take 
place of strong arguments, and every vulgar booby 
who can call names, and procure a set of types upon 
credit, may set up as an editor, with a fair prospect 
of success. 

In England, it is fortunately still different. News- 
papers being expensive, the great body of their sup- 
porters are to be found among people of comparative 
wealth and intelligence, though they practically cir- 
culate among the poorer classes in abundance sufii- 
cient for all purposes of information. The public, 
whose taste they are obliged to consult, is, therefore, 
of a higher order; and the consequence of this arrange- 
ment is apparent in the vast superiority of talent they 
display, and in the wider range of knowledge and 
argument which they bring to bear on all questions 
of public interest. 

How long this may continue it is impossible to 
predict, but I trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer 


will weigh well the consequences, before he ventures 
to take off, or even materially to diminish, the tax 
on newspapers. He may rely on it, that, bad as the 
state of the public press may be, it cannot be im- 
proved by any legislative measure. Remove the 
stamp duty, and the consequence will inevitably be, 
that there will be two sets of newspapers, one for 
the rich and educated, the other for the poor and 
ignorant. England, like America, will be inundated 
by productions contemptible in point of talent, but 
not the less mischievous on that account. The 
check of enlightened opinion — the only efficient one 
— on the press will be annihilated. The standard of 
knowledge and morals will be lowered; and let it 
above all be remembered, that this tax, if removed, 
can never after be imposed. Once abolished^ he the 
consequences what they may, it is abolished for ever. 
The duty on advertisements is undoubtedly impolitic, 
and should be given up so soon as the necessities 
of the revenue will admit of it ; but I am confidently 
persuaded that the government which shall permit 
political journals to circulate in England without 
restraint, will inflict an evil on the country, the 


consequences of which will extend far beyond the 
present generation. 

In America, the warfare of statesmen is no less 
virulent than that of journals, and is conducted with 
the same weapons. When discord lights her torch 
in the cabinet of Washington, it blazes with unex- 
ampled violence. It was about this period that the 
cabinet of General Jackson suddenly exploded like 
a rocket, and the country found itself without a 
ministry. This catastrophe was not produced by 
any external assault. All had gone smoothly in 
Congress, and never was any ministry apparently 
more firmly seated. Had the cabinet been composed 
of bachelors, there is no saying how long or how 
prosperously they might have conducted the affairs 
of the country. Unfortunately they were married 
men. One minister's lady did not choose to visit the 
lady of another; and General Jackson, finding his 
talent as a pacificator inadequate to the crisis, deter- 
mined on making a clear deck, and organizing an 
administration whose policy might be less influenced 
by conjugal cabals. 

The members of the dismissed cabinet had now 


fall liberty and leisure for crimination and abuse. 
A newspaper correspondence commenced between 
Major Eaton, the Secretary for the War Depart- 
ment, and Mr Ingham, the Secretary of the Trea- 
sury. The decent courtesies of life were thrown 
aside ; the coarsest epithets were employed by both 
parties, the most atrocious charges were advanced, 
and even female character was not spared in this 
ferocious controversy. Nor is this a solitary instance. 
Nearly at the same period the newspapers contained 
letters of Mr Crawford, formerly a member of the 
Cabinet, assailing the character of Mr Calhoun, the 
Vice-President, in the same spirit, and with the 
same weapons. 

The truth is, that in all controversies of public 
men, the only tribunal of appeal is the people, in the 
broadest acceptation of the term. An American 
statesman must secure the support of a numerical 
majority of the population, or his schemes of ambi- 
tion at once fall to the ground. Give him the sup- 
port of the vulgar, and he may despise the opinion 
of the enlightened, the honourable, and the high- 
minded. He can only profess motives palpable to 


the gross perceptions of the mean and ignorant. He 
adapts his language, therefore, not only to their 
understandings, but to their taste ; in short, he must 
stoop to conquer, and having done so, can never 
resume the proud bearing and unbending attitude 
of independence. 

In regard to religion, it is difficult, in a commu- 
nity presenting such diversity of character as the 
United States, to offer any observation which shall 
be universally or even generally true. A stranger 
is evidently debarred from that intimate and exten- 
sive knowledge of character and motive, which could 
alone warrant bis entering very deeply into the 
subject. On the matter of religion, therefore, I 
have but little to say, and that little shall be said as 
briefly as possible. 

Of these disgusting extravagances, recorded by 
other travellers, I was not witness, because I was 
not anxious to be so. But of the prevalence of such 
things as camp- meetings and revivals, and of the 
ignorant fanaticism in which they have their origin, 
there can be no doubt. It is easy to lavish ridicule 
on such exhibitions, and demonstrate how utterly 


inconsistent they are with rational and enlightened 
piety. Still, it should be remembered, that in a 
thinly-peopled country, any regular ministration of 
religion is frequently impossible ; and if by any pro- 
cess religion can be made to exercise a strong and 
permanent influence on the character of those so 
situated, a great benefit has been conferred on society. 
Where the choice lies b&tween fanaticism and profli- 
gacy, v» e cannot hesitate in preferring the former. 

In a free community, the follies of the fanatic are 
harmless. The points on which he diff'ers from 
those around him, are rarely of a nature to produce 
injurious eff'ects on his conduct as a citizen. But the 
man without religion acknowledges no restraint but 
human laws ; and the dungeon and the gibbet are 
necessary to secure the rights and interests of his 
fellow- citizens from violation. There can be no 
doubt, therefore, that in a newly- settled country, 
the strong eff'ect produced by these camp-meetings 
and revivals, is on the whole beneficial. The re- 
straints of public opinion and penal legislation are 
little felt in the wilderness ; and, in such circum- 
stances, the higher principle of action, communica- 


ted by religion, is a new and additional security to 

Throughout the whole Union, I am assured, that 
the Methodists have acquired a powerful influence. 
The preachers of that sect are generally well adapt- 
ed, by character and training, for the duties they 
are appointed to discharge. They perfectly under- 
stand the habits, feelings, and prejudices of those 
whom they address. They mingle in the social 
circles of the people, and thus acquire knowledge 
of the secrets of families, which is found eminently 
available in increasing their influence. Through 
their means, religion becomes mingled with the 
pursuits, and even the innocent amusements of life. 
Young ladies chant hymns, instead of Irish melo- 
dies ; and the profane chorus gives place to rhyth- 
mical doxologies. Grog parties commence with 
prayer, and terminate with benediction. Devout 
smokers say grace over a cigar, and chewers of the 
Nicotian weed insert a fresh quid with an expression 
of pious gratitude. 

This may appear ludicrous in description ; yet it 
ought not to be so. The sentiment of devotion, the 


love, the hope, the gi-atitude, the strong and ruling 
desire to conform our conduct to the Divine will, 
the continual recognition of God's mercy, even in 
our most trifling enjoyments, are among the most 
valuable fruits of true religion. If these are de- 
based by irrational superstition, and the occasional 
ravings of a disturbed imagination, let us not reject 
the gold on account of the alloy, nor think only of 
the sediment, which defiles the waters by which a 
whole country is fertilized. 

In the larger cities, there is no apparent deficiency 
of religion. The number of churches is as great as 
in England ; the habits of the people are moral and 
decorous; the domestic sanctities are rarely viola- 
ted ; and vice pays at least the homage to virtue of 
assuming its deportment The clergy in those cities 
are men of respectable acquirements, and, I believe, 
not inferior to those of other countries in zeal and 
piety. If the amount of encouragement afforded to 
Sunday Schools, Missionary and Bible Societies, be 
assumed as the test of religious zeal, no deficiency 
will be discovered in the Northern States. These 
establishments flourish as luxuriantly as in England, 


when the cUfFerences of wealth and population are 
taken into account. Among the higher classes, I 
could detect no appearance of religious jealousies or 
antipathies. Those who, in the pursuits of politics 
or money, are vehement and intolerant of opposi- 
tion, exhibit in matters of religion a spirit more 
tranquil and philosophical. 

In the country, however, this is not the case. There 
differences of religious opinion rend society into 
shreds and patches, varying in every thing of co- 
lour, form, and texture. In a village, the population 
of which is barely sufficient to fill one church, and 
support one clergyman, the inhabitants are either 
forced to want religious ministration altogether, or 
the followers of different sects must agree on some 
compromise, by which each yields up some portion of 
his creed to satisfy the objections of his neighbour. 
This breeds argument, dispute, and bitterness of 
feeling. The Socinian will not object to an Arian 
clergyman, but declines having any thing to do with 
a supporter of the Trinity. The Calvinist will 
consent to tolerate the doctrine of free agency, if 
combined with that of absolute and irrespective 


decreeg. The Baptist may give up the assertion of 
some favourite dogmas, but clings to adult baptism 
as a sine qua non. And thus with other sects. But 
who is to inculcate such a jumble of discrepant and 
irreconcilable doctrine ? No one can shape his doc- 
trine according to the anomalous and piebald creed 
prescribed by such a congregation, and the practical 
result is, that some one sect becomes victorious for 
a time; jealousies deepen into antipathies, and what 
is called an opposition church probably springs up in 
the village. Still harmony is not restored. The 
rival clergymen attack each other from the pulpit : 
newspapers are enlisted on either side ; and religious 
warfare is waged with the bitterness, if not the 
learning which has distinguished the controversies 
of abler polemics. 

In the New England, and many of the Western 
States, compliance with religious observances is 
classed among the moral proprieties demanded by 
public opinion. In the former, indeed, religion has 
been for ages hereditary, and, like an entailed estate, 
has descended, in unbroken succession, from the 
Pilgrim fathers to the present generation. But 


nowhere does it appear in a garb less attractive, and 
nowhere are its warm charities and milder graces 
less apparent to a stranger. 

In the larger cities, I have already stated that the 
clergy are in general men competent, from talent 
and education, to impart religious instruction to 
their fellow-citizens. But in the country it is 
different. The clergymen with whom I had an 
opportunity of conversing during my different 
journeys, were unlettered, and ignorant of theo- 
logy, in a degree often scarcely credible. Some 
of them seemed to have changed their tenets as 
they do their coats. One told me that he had 
commenced his clerical life as a Calvinist ; he then 
became a Baptist ; then a Universalist ; and was, 
when I met him, a Unitarian ! 

There is one advantage of an established church, 
which only those, perhaps, who have visited the 
United States can duly appreciate. In England, a 
large body of highly educated gentlemen annually 
issue from the Universities to discharge the duties 
of the clerical office throughout the kingdom. By 
this means, a certain stability is given to religious 


opinion; and even those who dissent from the church, 
are led to judge of their pastors by a higher stan- 
dard, and to demand a greater amount of qualifica- 
tion than is ever thought of in a country like the 
Ignited States. This result is undoubtedly of the 
highest benefit to the community. The light of 
the established church penetrates to the chapel 
of the dissenter, and there is a moral check on 
religious extravagance, the operation of which is 
not the less efficacious, because it is silent and un- 
perceived by those on whom its influence is exerted. 
Religion is not one of those articles, the supply of 
which may be left to be regulated by the demand. 
The necessity for it is precisely greatest when the 
demand is least ; and a government neglects its first 
and highest duty, which fails to provide for the 
spiritual as well as temporal wants of its subjects. 
But on the question of religious establishments, I 
cannot enter. I only wish to record my conviction, 
that those who adduce the state of religion in the 
United States as affording illustration of the inu- 
tility of an established church, are either bad reason- 
ers, or ignorant men. 


I have now done. I fear it will be collected from 
these volumes, that my impressions of the moral 
and political condition of the Americans are on the 
whole unfavourable. I regret this, but cannot help 
it. If opinion depended on will, mi„e would be 
different. I returned to England with a strong 
feeling of gratitude for the hospitality I experienced 
i" all parts of the Union ; and I can truly declare, 
that no pride or pertinacity of judgment will prevent 
ray cherishing the sincere wish, that all the evils 
which appear to me to impend over the future des- 
tinies of this rising country may be averted, and 
that the United States may afford a great and last- 
ing example of freedom and prosperity. 

Let enlightened Americans who visit England 
write of her institutions in the same spirit of^free- 
dom which I have used in discussing the advan- 
tages of theirs. It is for the benefit of both nations 
that their errors and inconsistencies should be 
rigorously and unsparingly detected. A blunder 
exposed ceases to be injurious, and instead of 
a dangerous precedent, becomes a useful beacon. 
When a writer has to deal with fallacies affecting 
VOL. II. 2 " 


the welfare of a community, he should express him- 
self boldly. There should be no mincing of word 
or argument — no equivocation of dissent — no dalli- 
ance with falsehood — no vailing the dignity of a 
good cause. Truth should never strike her topsails 
in compliment to ignorance or sophistry, and if the 
battle be fought yard-arm to yard-arm, however her 
cause may occasionally suffer from the weakness of 
its champions, it is sure to prove ultimately vic- 

On the 20th of July, I sailed in the Birmingham 
for Liverpool; and, on the 12th of August, had the 
satisfaction of again planting my foot on the soil of 
Old England. 


EDiNBcna:! : f!Iin':ed bv 3xLLa.s!vne and co. pall's wohk 



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